While the signing of Mike Mitchell to replace Ryan Clark has dominated free agency headlines in Pittsburgh, the Steelers may be quietly losing one of their own according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Soon after Bouchette's tweet went live, conflicting reports surfaced denying any official signature. However, it is still believed to be close enough to warrant such speculation. Woods insists he still plans to make other visits.
If Bouchette's source is correct, Woods will definitely be missed. In 2013, Woods cemented himself into second place on the depth chart at both defensive end and nose tackle. Now, with a seemingly-imminent Woods departure, the Steelers find themselves with only one of their top four DEs from 2013 under contract for the upcoming season.
The possibility of competing for a starting job is likely the biggest factor in Woods decision to move on. While the Steelers had come to rely on him rather heavily as a versatile backup, he was not believed to be in contention for a promotion if he stayed. Money is probably also playing a factor, especially if starting jobs are being used as bargaining chips; but actual terms have yet to be announced.
Pittsburgh will undoubtedly find themselves pressured to re-sign either Ziggy Hood or Brett Keisel in the near future to give Cameron Heyward and experienced bookend on the defensive line. If neither can be re-signed, the team will be left to rely on untested youngsters Nicholas Williams and Brian Arnfelt, unless they decide to bring in an unfamiliar free-agent or go fishing in the draft.
Of course, until Woods officially signs a new deal with another team, there will remain a glimmer of hope he may choose to return to Pittsburgh, even at a discount; but with so many suitors already, that glimmer gets a little dimmer with each passing moment.