Let's play Word(s) Association.
Contract extension? Ben Roethlisberger.
Free agent signing? Jerricho Cotchery.
Salary reduction? LaMarr Woodley.
Bet you thought the last one was Ike Taylor. It very well could be, but in all the speculation surrounding what looks to be another very active offseason in Pittsburgh, the topic of Woodley's contract is being interpreted in black and white. It's all or nothing for the eighth-year oft-injured pass rusher. He's not a candidate to accept less to avoid a release, according to the masses.
General manager Kevin Colbert said it's possible the Steelers keep both Woodley and Jason Worilds - who's due a new contract, either from Pittsburgh or another team this offseason. A team can never have too many good pass rushers, after all. But the biggest problem the Steelers have had over the last three years is having too few of them.
It seems the most sensible conclusion one can come to when analyzing all the information surrounding the contract positions of both edge rushers is Woodley will not play the 2014 season at the current rate of his contract. At the same time, the reasons Pittsburgh won't bring him back - a high financial price for a player borderline destined to miss at least half the season - are the very same another team would elect to not offer Woodley a huge deal if the Steelers released him.
Cotchery suffered a similar fate in New York. The Jets released him in 2011, hoping to sign him back to a more team-friendly deal. He basically said if he was going to play for less than his contracted rate, he was going to do it for another team. He ended up signing a smaller deal to play for the Steelers, and finished out that contract this past season, after scoring a career-high 10 touchdowns.
If the Steelers will keep Woodley, it would show an enormous amount of seemingly misguided faith in his ability to get back to the high-level production rate he was at early in his career. If they cut him, and use the cap space created to sign Worilds to a mid or long term deal, they will have paid two pass rushers for one spot on the depth chart.
From a financial standpoint, considering they've already paid Woodley money that has to be accounted for on the cap, offering an incentive-laden deal while throwing away what's left on his contract would lower his cap number a bit while still keeping depth at the position. It'd be winner take all come training camp. That is, of course, assuming Woodley would accept such a deal. But perhaps they will explore that avenue before coming to the conclusion to give him his outright release.
- Regardless of motive, can't blame NFL for trying to make game safer
- Steelers have the best worst record in the NFL since 1978
- Weekend Checkdown: the top stories of the week
- Eastern Expansion: A look at efforts to increase global participation in American football
- Team World vs. Team USA in American Football