Today we will continue on with our offseason look at Pittsburgh Steelers free agents. We will continue to knock these breakdowns out over the course of the next few weeks as we move closer towards the start of free agency in March. Our analysis has already covered three of the Steelers veteran unrestricted free agents and today we will have a look at veteran inside linebacker Larry Foote, who will turn 33 in June.
Player: Larry Foote
Position: Inside Linebacker
Experience: 11 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2012 Salary Cap Hit: $3,600,000
2012 Season Breakdown: When James Farrior was released last offseason many wondered if Foote would be able to fill his shoes. Not only did he fill them, he had his best statistical season of his career in 2012. The Steelers former fourth-round draft pick not only led the Steelers defense in total tackles with 113, but he was also responsible for forcing 2 fumbles and recorded 4 sacks on the season.
Stats aside, the Steelers signal caller was not without his faults, especially against the run. Yes, the Steelers defense finished fourth overall in yards allowed per rush, but Foote did miss his share of tackles and had problems stacking and shedding offensive linemen at times. In pass coverage Foote allowed a completion rate of nearly 75%. This was a result of playing quite a bit of zone underneath and the defense as a whole not providing consistent pressure. He was, however, charged with allowing 4 of the 19 receiving touchdowns scored against the defense. He also missed a few golden opportunities to add to his sack total with missed tackles and failed to corral a few tipped balls that likely should have been intercepted.
To his credit Foote was only flagged once in 2012 and that was for tripping, and he only missed a play or three due to getting dinged. For the most part his ability to call the defense was spot on and he seemed adept at making sure players were lined up properly. There were times when the defense declared their assignments way too early, which in turn allowed opposing quarterbacks to check out of their original play and into another, but that is not entirely on him.
Foote still diagnoses plays well, but his first reaction step at times seemed delayed. His ability to get home on blitzes also lacks quit a bit and he was easily handled by a back or interior lineman that was assigned to pick him up. He is still quick on a straight line, but only average covering sideline-to-sideline.
With all of the above said, I think Foote gave the Steelers more than they imagined in 2012 and he should be commended for his efforts. He knows the system and was usually assignment strong even though the result might not have been a desired one at times.
Free Agency Outlook: Foote said after the season ended that he was open to returning in 2013 depending on the price. He has played outside of Pittsburgh only once and didn\’t enjoy that experience as a member of the Detroit Lions.
The Steelers enter the offseason with a huge question mark at his position. Sean Spence, the Steelers third-round draft pick last year, missed the entire season due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason and Stevenson Sylvester, the Steelers fifth-round draft pick in 2010, only played one meaningless snap on the defensive side of the ball in his third season with the team.
The Steelers might decide to move Lawrence Timmons over to strong-side in 2013 and let Spence handle the weak-side duties, assuming he recovers fully, but the depth behind the two lacks severely. The Steelers will surely draft an inside linebacker in April, but that player shouldn\’t be expected to contribute on defense until his second season, especially at the strong-side spot. Foote would be an asset as a backup next year should he be re-signed for one season, but that only comes with backup money, which in this case would be a one-year qualifying deal for the veteran minimum.
The Michigan product is unlikely to get much, if any, attention during the free agency signing period, so it wouldn\’t be shocking to see him back at Latrobe for the start of training camp if he decides he wants to play one more season. Foote is a good player to have in the lockerroom and worth bringing back on the cheap for a limited role. Right now I would put that at a 40% chance of happening as we sit here in January.
Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis Charlie Batch – Unrestricted Free Agent Casey Hampton – Unrestricted Free Agent Plaxico Burress – Unrestricted Free Agent
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I think we lacked leadership this year, which could explain many of our problems. And I see Foote as one of the few guys able to be a vocal leader (and a good example on the field). That’s the main reason I think we should keep him, plus the fact that he played well and we need depth at ILB position.
I think we are forced to bring Foote back – although ideally it would just be on a 1 year veteran minimum salary as a leader/backup.
Whats the latest on Spence’s recovery?
I would like Lawrence Timmons to take his spot. He makes the money and needs to be the leader back there. I would also like the Steelers to reign him to a one year deal and let him compete with Sean Spence if he’s healthy.
Dont care what anyone says, we SHOULD re-sign Foote for ONE more year. He played great and stayed healthy in 2012 and he’s willing to take a paycut. Spence is a question mark, especially with the injury and Sly seems to be on his way out the door, even if Sly is tendered and brought back, unless he shows improvement in camp and goes on to have a breakout 2013, Sly’s Steeler days are likely numbered, same with B.Johnson if he’s even brought back at all. Only other option I could even see at this point would be if Brian Rolle tears it up in training camp.
I disagree with Bryan, I think Foote will get some attention in FA, 113TOT, 4sacks and 2FF, the guy put up really good numbers, he’s only 32yrs old and his asking price would be relatively low BUT the one thing we have going for us, should we choose to retain him, is that HE doesnt want to play elsewhere. Foote has been pretty vocal about hating the year he played in Detroit AND THAT’S HIS HOMETOWN! Ha!
Tell the great LeBeau the reason we have the genius LeBeau is to next preseason make an ILB out of whatever bodies we already have now without drafting any ILB this offseason. LeBeau can make an ILB out of one of either BJohnson or Sly or Spence or Worilds unless the guy will be starter at OLB. Thats part of why LeBeau gets paid. LeBeau is more-than smart enuff to do that, just let LeBeau pick amongst those guys who hav potential but not getting enuff out of those guys otherwise.
Plus, that way no need to waste a draft pick on an ILB. Too many more-desperat position needs on this team to spend any of our rounds 1-4 on friggen ILB.
Btw, Foote got scorched in the flat trying to cover TEs, & his season ended that way via a TD against us. Our other guys culdnt be as slow as Foote. ILBs dont have to cover often but cannot have any ILB who a coach can never ask him to cover a TE. Probly unpopular here to mention his too-slow speed, but thats why Timmons replaced him instead of tried to keep Foote years ago. Make Foote a coach if you’re only keeping him for experience.
I don’t think Timmons will ever be a leader, at least not in the vocal sense. I thought Woodley would be a good candidate for a new vocal guy, but his utter lack of production kept him from stepping into that role this year. If he returns to form, the new leadership mantle is still there waiting for him.
It amazes me the disrespect that Larry Foote gets. Larry Foote been on this team 10 years, have never missed a game due to injuries, have always been solid linebacker, have lead this team twice in tackles and has been on numerous top ten defense for almost a decade. James Farrior became all pro because Larry Foote held his own. Lawrence Timmons is becoming a better player because Larry Foote is doing the dirty work and once again I can’t we want to chase Larry out of town.
I think Foote will command much more than the vet min. And indeed we do need to bring him back for another year. Would be good to get younger and cheaper, but on the assumption that we put Worilds or a new guy at LOLB, we’ll need that experience next door. I would hope we make a reasonable offer to keep him, but I reckon the market will determine where he goes.
Our offense is what has the gaping need for more leadership. I doubt Foote will help that.
Who is chasing him out of town? Unfortunately there is this thing called a salary cap that the Steelers have to adhere to. I wrote that the Steelers could do worse by bringing Foote back, and I hope he is bought back. At the same time, Foote needs to be prepared to take the minimum or thereabouts to return.
Foote needs to be on the team 2 more years IMO
LILB needs to be a run-stuffer, that’s not what Timmons does well. He’s best in coverage & perfect as a RILB. He won’t be moved.
Outside of Timmons, we’ve never had a LBer who could cover a good TE – which is normally a Safety’s job anyway. Only other ones I can recall is Chad Brown & Carlos Emmons.
Well it’s not like Larry Foote is considered to be a run-stuffer. Sure maybe that’s what he does best, but it doesn’t mean Timmons can’t do it better than him. Foote used to play RILB too, ya know.
I meant leader as in the Mike linebacker that QB’d the defense.
Larry’s always been good against the run and is certainly better at it than Timmons who rarely takes on blocks, preferring to use his athleticism to run around them. You need a certain playing style for LILB and using Timmons there would not be putting him in a situation to do what he does best.
Do you recall him adding weight for the 2011 season? That didn’t work out for him either, he’s back to his preferred weight now and is much better at 235-240 than he was at 250.
If, as some ppl believe, the Steelers replace Hampton-Timmons-Foote with McClendon-Spence-Timmons then I believe we’ll see the Steelers get gouged in the run game like never before.
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