In less than a month, Pittsburgh Steelers backup defensive lineman Al Woods will be an unrestricted free agent and while you don’t hear much talk about him, you would have to think the organization would like to keep him around a few more years.
The Steelers have a lot of time invested in Woods, who joined the team in November of 2011 after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks. While it is a stretch to suggest that he will ever become anything more than an occasional spot starter at either defensive end or nose tackle, he showed last season that he can contribute some quality snaps at either of those two positions.
The Steelers currently only have defensive linemen Steve McLendon, Cameron Heyward, Hebron Fangupo, Nick Williams, Brian Arnfelt and Al Lapuaho under contract for 2014. Of those six players, only McLendon and Heyward have logged substantial playing time. While the organization still likely feels that Williams can be developed into a starter in time, the other three should be considered bubble players until further notice. Yes, even Arnfelt, who did show a little bit of promise last preseason late in games.
There is no guarantee that either Brett Keisel or Ziggy Hood will be re-signed and that would expose a huge depth void if they’re not. Re-signing Woods would at least help in that area.
So how much would it cost to retain Woods? Being as he hasn’t even played 500 snaps in the NFL since being drafted in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the New Orleans Saints, likely not a lot.
The Steelers signed McLendon to a three-year, $7.25 million contract last offseason when it looked like they might lose him as a restricted free agent to the Green Bay Packers and he had logged less than 400 snaps of playing time up until that point. McLendon’s deal included a $1.675 million signing bonus.
In the case of Woods, the Steelers should be able to retain him with a three-year deal worth around $3.4 million. A deal such as that would include a $1 million signing bonus and a first year base salary of $730,000, which is the minimum for the amount of accrued years that Woods currently has to his credit. That would make his 2014 cap hit a little more than $1.063 million. In addition, a deal such as that would not make him hard to release next offseason, should that need arise.
That’s a cheap price to pay for someone as versatile as Woods is and we should find out in less than five weeks if the Steelers agree with that sentiment.