With yesterday’s news that outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley was placed on injured reserve, thus ending another unproductive season for the Michigan product, you have to wonder what has become of Woodley’s long-term future in Pittsburgh.
Two, maybe three years ago, that would have been a silly question to ask given that Woodley was busy establishing himself as one of the best young pass rushers in the NFL.
But my how times have changed.
In the last three seasons, Woodley has played in only 34 of a potential 48 games (by the time this season ends) and he hasn’t been very productive during that span. He has been quite less productive the past two seasons, recording only nine sacks in his last 24 games.
With his massive contract that will pay him $25.5 million over the next three seasons, you have to wonder if the Steelers will look to part ways with Woodley after this season.
It won’t be that easy to do, considering he holds a cap hit of $39.67 million during the next three seasons.
By cutting Woodley after the season, the Steelers would still have to eat $14.17 million of Woodley’s deal, which would count against the cap. But it would also save them over $25 million long term.
But considering the fact that Woodley did not get his job at left outside linebacker back when he returned from injury two weeks ago, doesn’t speak too highly of the Steelers future plans for him.
His inability to stay healthy is a big deal. So is his lack of production.
In his last 25 games, Woodley doesn’t have a single game in which he has recorded more than one sack. That’s a major cause for concern.
Given the way Jason Worilds has emerged on the left side and the fact that Jarvis Jones is penciled in as the future on the right side, you have to think that Woodley is no longer in the team’s plans.
Of course Worilds is an unrestricted free agent after this season and the Steelers must be able to retain him before parting ways with Woodley.
Either way, the Steelers have a big decision to make in the offseason. It doesn’t make much sense to pay an unproductive guy like Woodley major money to do next to nothing.
The writing on the wall doesn’t bode well for Woodley. There’s a good chance we have seen the last of him in a Steelers uniform.