Steelers LB Larry Foote Has Likely Played His Last Down In Pittsburgh

foote-bicepsPittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker and defensive team captain Larry Foote had surgery Tuesday to repair the torn right biceps that he suffered in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Now that he has been lost for the season, you have to think he’s probably played his last down in Pittsburgh.

Foote, who was an unrestricted free agent this past offseason, signed a three-year, $5.5 million contract with the Steelers right at the start of free agency, and that deal included a $1 million signing bonus. The veteran linebacker is scheduled to count $1.833 million against the cap in 2014 and the Steelers only stand to incur a dead money charge of $666,667 should they release him next offseason prior to June 1.

The Steelers drafted Vince Williams in the sixth-round of the 2013 NFL Draft this past April with the hopes that he would eventually succeed Foote inside. In addition, they are hoping that Sean Spence, their third-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, will be able to resume his career either late this season or in 2014.

Foote was originally drafted by the Steelers in the fourth-round of the 2002 NFL Draft and wound up starting three games as a rookie after Kendrell Bell went down with an ankle injury. Sunday against the Titans marked his 119th regular season career start.

Foote played one season with the Detroit Lions in 2009 following his release from the Steelers earlier that offseason, but returned to Pittsburgh the following season on a three-year deal to be the primary backup inside to James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons. When Farrior was released prior to the 2012 season, Foote became a starter once again.

During his 11 years in Pittsburgh, Foote, who will be 34 next June, has recorded 620 total tackles, but the one that he didn’t make Sunday with his right arm on Chris Johnson in fourth quarter might very well have been his last attempt of his career.

You certainly hate to see players go out that way, but Foote will at least go out a two-time Super Bowl champion should the Steelers indeed part ways with him after the season.

  • NW86

    I wondered about that as soon as I heard about the severity of the injury, and with the young guys they have on the roster I tend to agree. At the very least, he won’t be back as the starter and not under his current contract. If anything, I could see them restructuring him down to the vet minimum and keeping him if they think they need some veteran depth.

  • VaDave

    Agreed , a sad way for Footer to end up his career. He may not have been the best LB we ever had, but we sure got a lot of mileage out what he brought to the table.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    That was my first thought when he was injured for the season that it was most likely the last time he played as a Steeler.

  • steeltown

    I have a lot of respect for this man, not the most talented of players but a hard worker, smart and almost always in position to make the play. Before camp this year I would’ve said with certainty that Foote will be back next season, but now, with the young talent we have at the position e.g. Vince Williams, Terrance Garvin, Kion Wilson etc. it very well could be the end… but hey who knows, maybe he comes back on a reduced rate for depth purposes. I would love to have him on roster if for nothing less then depth and leadership

  • Rob Rossi Jr.

    I also have a lot of respect for Footer, he was not the best LB we had but he was Def. underrated and he contributed to each and every game and most of all he was a leader on defense and a very smart player who called all the defensive plays for the squad. I hope that he can heal quickly and maybe play in a few more games and retire and go out on a good note with the steelers.

  • steeltown

    I think there is a chance he plays in 2014, he might not be the unquestioned starter, but he could be on roster none the less


    Foote was a Trooper Too! My man.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Although I respect what he gave to the Steelers, I can’t deny that he was a liability on passing downs, especially later in games. Too slow, too old, too tired I know it wasn’t his fault he was on the field every play, but the D will be improved on third downs now that he’s not. I am sorry it went down this way, wish he could play 50 – 75% of the snaps depending on situations and let the young buck’s slowly take more and more of his plays, but it is what it is. By October, this will be a better unit…Look out Jets!

  • still desi

    Sorry I never comment on here, but I just have to do so here. Go look at any analytics based review (PFF, etc) of the Steelers defense and you will find Foote as one of the greatest liabilities. He’s purely a mediocre run stopper in a passing league, and LeBeau foolishly used him as a 3-down LB. His injury will greatly help the defense in the long-run. And please for the love of god, don’t bring this guy back next year. The last thing the defense needs is old, slow backup LBs who can’t play special teams.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I hate this for Foote. He was a young LB that worked hard on special teams to earn a starting spot at ILB. While he’s not the most talented at the position he’s a lunch pail type of guy a good compliment to James Farrior back when he played. If he can squeeze another year out as a backup i’d love for him to come back it would be good for the young guys we have to have a vet in the mix. Only problem i see is with the depth at ILB there might not be a roster spot avail for him.

  • Billohwee

    Stilldesi, You’re right there. Steelers should have absolutely started one of the guys with zero NFL experience over this liability. Chucklehead!

  • Steeler Wheeler

    LeBeau loves his guys to a fault. It’s up to Colbert to not sign these guys past their prime because LeBeau will run them out there every play. Hey, remember all those plays he made for us? um Yes, Dick, but that was seven years ago. Farrior had to blow a half dozen games not able to cover a back until his contract was finally up, Hampton was a liability for more than a season, Willie Gay will get torched for 10 TD’s before they ever replace him. The list goes on and on.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I gotta believe a zero experience, young, strong NFL LB would have made more plays Sunday. Filling a hole on a running play and getting totally lost on coverage is real easy to do.

  • Bill Molinaro

    Foote was one of those players that you simply do not know how much they contributed until you no longer have them. He was a blue collar worker, always grinding in the thick of things. I’m sure the Steelers will miss him as a linebacker and as the leader of the defense.

  • still desi

    Go read what Pro Football Focus, universally respected as best analytics football site out there, has to say about your beloved Foote.

  • Billohwee

    not disagreeing Foote wasn’t a strong contributor. More on Colbert for letting it get this bad. Given the choices they had, Foote was best choice.


    I was for keeping Farrior over Foote, but Foote played steady LY, made the DEF calls, etc. What he’s not, is a play maker…yes, he knows where he’s supposed to be, but finishing the deal and making the play has passed him by…sorry to see him go out this way, but I think he’ll be fine.

  • Soliciting Steelers

    I still might be out-on-a-limb with this, but you factor in a small possibilty that Worilds (help salvage him) could move to BUCK role to replace Foote plus Spence, Williams, etc. Foote is slim chance to return, especially if we can save close to a $1M next year to help sign all the players Colbert inexplicably thought not to resign these past months…Kudos to Foote though, good Steeler, made us forget about Kendrell Bell’s flash-in-the-pan moments rather quickly!

  • Mkeller

    Explain to me again why you’re giving a 1 mil signing bonus to an aging below the line player that there is no competition for? $666,000.00 of dead money…that’s 1 less veteran FA to add next year or young player to cultivate.
    Old players break down. Kevin Colbert….stop already. Enough is enough.

  • Mkeller

    Colbert has known for 6 years he had an issue at the buck as farrior was running out of gas and Foote was allowed to walk in FA. All I here is Sean Spence. What is Sean Spence? Unproven and hurt. You have a 33 yr old man with waning skills backed up by a 3 yr journeyman. Its a poorly constructed roster that all goes back to the mismanaged salary cap.

  • Fr33th1nk3r

    Who do we have behind him that is better? You don’t replace a player until you have something behind him ready to take his place.

    I never understand why Larry Foote never gets any love from this fanbase. He’s only been the best run stopper and solid MLB for the best defense for a decade now. His coverage skills are not the greatest, but he is an otherwise contributing member.

  • Fr33th1nk3r

    If that was Foote’s last game, at least this fan is appreciative of all the things he has brought to this team over the last decade.

    Happy trails, Larry.

  • Mkeller

    He’s not a great player. You love him because he plays for our team. He wouldn’t be starting on any other team in the league. the fact there’s no better option is a question for Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert…not me. The need for youth at the buck started 6 yrs ago when Farrior started to slip. Maybe they needed 7 yrs to figure it out. And more importantly….old players break down. If you’re going to have depth anywhere it better be behind your aging veterans.

  • Mkeller

    Agreed. He was a nice player. But no time for sentimentality in the NFL. Its past time to move on.

  • planetsteelers

    Thank goodness. I’m tired of seeing him get bulldozed and pancaked. He was a solid contributor for many years but those years have clearly passed. It’s time to turn the page with some youth.

  • Milliken Steeler

    I’m not going to slam Foote. He was a solid player and gave it his all. Thank you Larry.

    That being said, I’m disappointed that Vince Williams isn’t getting the start and Kion is. I know he is a rookie however, this guy is a smart player and will hit you. Timmons already took over the play calling last week so its not like Vince would be having to over think at first and not react.

    I think this guy is a player and in time we’re gonna love the pick.

  • still desi

    Wait you mean he couldn’t start and produce for the woeful Detroit Lions a few years back. Surely you jest.

  • Jonathon Bert Schade

    I, too, have nothing but respect for this “blue collar” athlete. Never the most gifted man on the field, but often the most intense. Best of luck in the future, Mr. Foote and thanks for the memories.

  • Mkeller

    Exactly. And after that…again with no competition…they gave him a 3 yr 9mil contract. Its a head scratcher. 3 mil a year for a backup buck LB (which is what he came back to be) is insane in any era.
    Everyone gets so caught up in the personalities. Its not personal its just over. And as far as feeling bad for Larry…please. We all should have his problems. Millions of dollars and a decade of living the high life in the NFL. He’ll be just fine and the roster will still need fixed. Lets tear this menacing bandage off and get back to winning!!!! NO NEW CONTRACTS FOR OVER 30 INJURED PLAYERS ABOVE THE VET MINIMUM!

  • CrazyTerry

    Farrior stayed on too long and Colbert’s cap problems are partly due to his refusal to see reality and cut Farrior earlier. Same with Foote. Once AZ inflated his price by an extra million, Colbert should have moved on. I like Foote, but his time as a starter has passed. And now with this injury, his time as a backup may also be over.

  • CrazyTerry

    One of LeBeau’s worst coaching moments was the Cinci game in the year after SB 43. LeBeau kept puttin Farrior out there in pass ocverage on 3rd downs and that was one of the big reasons for the huge loss that had a domino effect on the season.


    Note…I said “over” Foote, meaning if I had to pick between those two…agreed…it was time to move on from both guys…yet no standout ready and that points to Colbert.

  • Mike Carroll

    No disrespect to Foote, but it’s definitely time for the Steelers to move on. Foote was a solid, team player, but never a great player. He worked out very well in that role on some great Steeler teams from ages 23-30. But, asking a supporting cast type player from the past, to be a starter and looked upon as a defensive leader at age 33 really was not a good thing, IMO. It’s time to allow new guys to emerge. This team is in full transition and new guys must emerge to re-new the team’s success. Vince Williams has some promise. I could live with some rookie mistakes if he brings some new fire and an occasional impact type play.

  • Mike Carroll

    I kinda agree with you. I can’t remember Foote making any significant, impact type plays in the last couple years. I guess we’ll find out in the coming weeks. But, I’m looking forward to adding more speed to the defense since that’s vital to creating turnovers.