Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – OLB LaMarr Woodley

By Matthew Marczi

End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.

Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.

Player: LaMarr Woodley

Position: Outside Linebacker

Experience: 7 Years

Veteran outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley already entered this season with a lot of questions surrounding him, and he didn’t provide many answers in his favor.

Considering the chief concern about his recent performance over the span of the prior season and a half was whether or not he would be able to stay healthy, the fact that he missed five games—and nearly all of a sixth—has left virtually everybody questioning his future with the team.

As well as Woodley may have performed while he was actually healthy and on the field, the fact remains that this was the third straight season of serious, chronic soft tissue injuries involving his calf and hamstring muscles, and as a result, very pertinent questions about his future are being raised.

Woodley, who will turn 30 in November, has now played through half his contract, which he signed before the 2011 season. Because of consistent contract restructures that have pushed his cap hit backward, he is nearly prohibitively expensive to part with in terms of its impact on the team’s salary cap.

That said, he was among the Steelers’ best players when he was actually on the field this year, particularly early on in the season. During the first several weeks, with an ineffective platoon at the right outside linebacker position, Woodley was the team’s only consistent source of pressure on the quarterback, registering all five of his sacks in the first six games, in addition to five quarterback hits and over a dozen hurries.

He still kept the pressure on in the pass rush for the next few weeks before his injury, even though he didn’t register a sack. The game against the New England Patriots was one of his best, while it was collectively the worst for the defense as a whole, as well as for many individual players.

While he has done better in the past, his run defense in 2013 remained adequate, and he was more of a sure tackler than most on the defense last season. I have no doubt that Woodley can still be a highly effective player for the Steelers if he can stay healthy.

But to say that his ability to stay healthy is in question would be an understatement. The Steelers are being forced to look their future in the eye this offseason. Is the soon-to-be-30 and clearly past his prime Woodley part of that future? And does that exclude the just-turning-26 and clearly just entering his prime Jason Worilds, who is the team’s biggest pending free agent by far?

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – QB Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Antonio Brown
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – WR Emmanuel Sanders
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – TE Heath Miller
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Marcus Gilbert
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G David DeCastro
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – G Ramon Foster
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – T Kelvin Beachum
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – RB Le’Veon Bell
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – C Fernando Velasco
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – FB Will Johnson
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Brett Keisel
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – NT Steve McLendon
Steelers End Of Season Player Exit Meetings – DE Cameron Heyward

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • JAMESH

    It seems to have been so long ago that Woodley was a force, it’s easy to forget how good he once was. The big gamble………… can he regain that level of play and stay healthy? Nobody truly knows that answer today; any decision is a hedged bet.

  • CrazyTerry

    Can we stop talking about the cap hit? So what if the cap is affected big time this year. Imagine how much better the cap relief will be the next two years when you kick this bum out. All you need to know is the cap savings over the next two years will be big enough. It is Khan’s job to find a way to figure out how to structure new contracts to this new cap .

    How many splash plays did Woodley actually make befitting his cap number? Does he go against the best tackles? I am not saying he doesn’t , but it is worth considering when we assess him so highly.

  • dgh57

    Seems like I remember Woodley showing up to Training Camp in pretty good shape maybe even the best shape he’s ever been in and yet did it do him any good? Whether you keep the guy or get rid of him I see it as going to hurt somewhere in either the wallet or on the playing field! So live up to the fact you made a mistake in signing him to his monster contract and move on post June 1.

  • treeher

    By the way, it has gone pretty much unnoticed that our newest guy JJ will be 25 years old in October …

  • Brendon Glad

    He’s a scar tissue nightmare…his career is probably going the way of Yancey Thigpen’s Tennessee career. No forseeable end in sight to the recurring pulls. They need to bid him farewell.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Prefacing this with…the standard cliche…this is just my opinion.

    As a player in the system…I think Woodley is now ill-fitted to play the pass coverage responsibilities demanded of OLBs in PIT….if he just had pass rushing and edge run support responsibility like a traditional 4-3 DE…I think he’s still capable of being high level player.

    That said…I still think he’s a better pass rusher than Worilds, but I would cut ties with Woodley, resign Worilds, and keep a very close eye on the development of JJ (whom I think is a 4-3 OLB at this level).

    I’ve said this before, the personnel on DEF just looks to be better suited for a 4-3 DEF.

  • steeltown

    I keep going back to what Coach Butler said before last season, basically calling out Woodley and Sylvestor for not staying healthy and not contributing or being able to stay on the field. Well, what now Coach?

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Aha! Good point. I am all for cutting some high priced talent to retool. Not everyone, of course, but he has to be one of the top candidates if they go that route.

  • steeltown

    I still cant wrap my head around restructuring him again last year, after two injury plagued seasons

  • blackandgoldBullion

    These restructurings are almost as bad as the government debt escalating while they pray that everything will get better in the future. At least there is a cap in the NFL (Unlike the government that just increases the debt limit when they are perceived to be bankrupt), and they should be trying to get under it, so they have room to operate.

    I think it would be nice to have some choices as to where to spend money.

  • Snatchataurus Rex

    there is a reason the NFL makes money and the government doesn’t. The cap limit.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Honestly, I’ve always found that Woodley is pretty solid in coverage for his position.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Letting Worilds go to keep Woodley-is just as bad as letting then watch them walk away. That way of doing buisness with even one or two key players is very costly.

  • walter mason

    Amen

  • ATL96STEELER

    Woodley has been a good OLB, his last great season was ’10…the ’11 & ’12 stat lines support your claim on his coverage skills, but watching the games…I still think he’s dropped off in that area, and with his leg issues I think we’ll see more decline.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I’m guessing theyhad no other option b/c the money for Levi Brown probably was not possible w/o a restructure…any restructure…in other words I think Kahn/Gilbert were just trying to find money…period.

    I think it’s pretty simple…to some degree I think we’re afraid to bottom out…cutting Woodley and re-signing Worild means Troy and or Taylor have to go…that would cycle 5 SBs winners on DEF off the roster when you count Clark, and Keisel…I think you take the cap hit on Woodley, and go young with a blend of reasonably priced FAs.

  • steeltown

    Yea, but they could lock up Worilds with a high signing bonus that has a low base salary in ’14 then next year when Worilds base salary and cap hit increase, Taylor and possibly Woodleys contracts will be off the books

  • ATL96STEELER

    They could, (A. Brown’s deal was like that) but they still have to find the cash to do that…I think the projected number is $10 mil over ’14 with the contracts in place for next season.

    I do understand because of timing issues that cutting Woodley doesn’t have any positive impact on signing Worilds.

    But it would let him know he’s the starter, and he may sign for a few dollars less to stay in the same system.

    I expect them to extend Ben and find some cash there and maybe restructure A.Brown and give an honest effort run @ Worilds, but keeping Woodley sends a mixed signal I think.