According to Josina Anderson, former Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote is not planning on retiring. In fact, he’s hoping to catch on with a team soon, rather than spend the offseason not knowing what the future holds.
Anderson spoke with the free agent linebacker on the phone yesterday morning about his plans for the future and Tweeted about the conversation.
Foote told her that “he has no immediate plans to retire”, adding that he would “still like to play for a contender”. He said working out through the offseason without a contract is difficult, not knowing if it would ever come to anything.
It will be interesting to see what kind of market develops, if any, for the experienced inside linebacker, who will be 34 years old by the time he has an opportunity to take his next snap in an NFL stadium.
Foote has spent 11 of his 12 NFL seasons with the Steelers, the team that drafted him back in 2002. He spent one year with his hometown Detroit Lions in 2009 before serving a four-year stint back in Pittsburgh.
When he returned, he slowly transitioned from reserve back to starter, with his second year back spent splitting snaps with longtime running mate James Farrior, who was released the following season to allow Foote to start.
When Farrior retired at the age of 37 following his release, he also seemed as though he planned to continue playing, as Foote—three-and-a-half years younger—claims is his intention now.
Farrior even said that he believes Foote will play in 2014, but most others are far from that level of confidence.
Foote is coming off a season in which he missed nearly all of it due to a ruptured biceps muscle. Given the role the inside linebacker plays in generating tackles, a biceps tear at Foote’s age could have a lingering effect.
Beyond that, it seems the Steelers didn’t even view Foote as a starter any longer. What is the likelihood of another team thinking otherwise? Players that the Steelers have released do not have a very good track record in terms of finding success later on with another organization.
Alameda Ta’amu, who rotated at nose tackle with the Arizona Cardinals, is the first name off the top of my head to have any career of note in the NFL after the Steelers cut ties with a player for on-field reasons.
If Foote really wants to play in 2014, he will likely have to lower his standards and get back to where he started in the NFL, as a reserve and special teams player.
I, however, believe that Foote will come to the realization that it’s not worth it. Even Farrior understood how difficult it is, having gone through the thought process himself. He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook:
But going to another team? Learning a new system? Playing with a new bunch of guys? That’s like being a rookie again. That’s rough at this stage of his career.
That’s something that he appreciated all the more when he came back to Pittsburgh from Detroit, learning some hard lessons along the way. Foote may want to continue playing now, but that might not be his thought process in a month’s time when he’s still waiting for a contract. Father Time always wins in the end, after all.