Release Of Woodley Would Make Questionable Depth At OLB Even More Questionable

With Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds now back in the fold for at least one more season, the organization must now decide whether or not to move on from fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley, who has missed 14 games due to various injuries dating back to 2011. The general consensus is that Woodley will be released with a post June 1 designation at some point this offseason and should that wind up coming to fruition, the Steelers outside linebacker depth will go from questionable to even more questionable.

Should Woodley indeed be jettisoned, that will leave the Steelers with Worilds and Jarvis Jones as the starters, and combined they have registered 19 career sacks with 18 coming from Worilds. In addition, neither has played more than 792 snaps in a season. Those are of course loaded numbers as Jones was a rookie last season while Worilds only started only 11 games.

Loaded snap numbers aside, the last time the Steelers had both of their starting linebackers each play 91% or more of all defensive snaps during the regular season was in 2010 when James Harrison logged 1022 defensive snaps and Woodley logged 954 of a possible 1,044. Assuming that both Worilds and Jones can log those kind of playing time percentages in 2014, who would play roughly the other 10% of the snaps?

If Woodley is indeed ultimately released, fourth-year linebacker Chris Carter would be next in line on the depth chart unless a free agent is signed or a more talented draft pick arrives in May. Carter has played all of 235 snaps in his first three seasons and so far hasn’t been impressive at all. Does he just need more playing time? If so, do we really hope that he gets in 2014?

It’s scary to think about what would happen if either Worilds or Jones were to go down for an extended amount of time with an injury in 2014 or if it takes the latter of the two a quarter or more of next season to become the player we all hope he can be.

Woodley has frustrated me with his injuries as much as he has most of you and while it seems a forgone conclusion that he will be gone soon, deep down inside I hope general manager Kevin Colbert can find a way to keep him around at least one more season, and preferably at a much lower cost. If not, I sure hope Carter makes one hell of an improvement this offseason, because odds are good that he’ll have to play nearly two games worth of snaps in 2014.

  • 20Stoney

    I agree completely about bringing him back at a lower price if possible. Let Woodley and Jones compete. Competition will bring out the best in both of them.

    Carter appears to me to have never been able to get any stronger since he was drafted. This is a concern of mine about Jones. Some guys are just not capable of getting appreciably stronger by just hitting the weights. At some point they’re maxed out. Hopefully that isn’t the case with Jones. This season will be telling.

  • 804Stiller

    Man, I really like Woodley but the production/availability hasn’t been there lately. After basically choosing Ike over Lewis,I’m sure the brass was highly skeptical about letting another young player go that was internally developed and about to hit the prime of his career. With that said, I always was a fan of 56 and his swag when he was on top of his game. Unfortunately, he seemed to get what motivates a lot of players so early in his career. He won early and got paid early. If you aren’t motivated to simply be the best, it’s easy to see how complacency can set in.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Agreed Agreed. I cant help but think we need Woodley for one more season not just to groom a would be draft pick(s) but to also because C.Carter has shown me nothing that would suggest he can handle the position if a starter goes down. I think back to the last preseason game against Carolina last year, he had something like 2sacks and a FF in that contest, yet he was matched up against 3rd stringers, so it really meant nothing..

  • steeltown

    Carter has no technique and it appears as if he’s learned nothing since being drafted. I remember some of the Kozora breakdowns that showed his struggles. He’s indecisive and seems to lack strength and technique.

    Jarvis needs to get stronger, no doubt, but his first year play is not comparable to the career of the lowly C.Carter

  • 20Stoney

    I don’t disagree with anything you said, except I;m not comparing anything about their careers. The only comparison I’m making is the lack of strength. My concern is that sometimes people just can’t get stronger. Everyone keeps saying all Jones needs is to get into the weight room. Hopefully that’s right, but just getting in there doesn’t guarantee the results. He need’s to have the genetics to get a lot stronger. Some guys can get stronger quickly, some guys (Carter) never can.

  • Steelers12328882

    If Woodley’s healthy it’s not even a competition. Jones is years away from reaching his level. Hopefully Carter is cut during the preseason.

  • steeltown

    This is pure speculation on my part, but he sure looks like he has the body type to put on muscle and build strength. You know how sometimes guys look like their frame couldnt support any further development, Jones at 6’2 245lbs appears as if he has some room for growth

  • Callentown

    I may be in the minority, but I read Rooney’s comments as a message to Woodley that he needs to show a commitment to being in shape so that they CAN keep him for another year.

    I know the numbers are tight for sure. But without him, the defense may take another step back. They would have to pick up a FA for depth.

    But just think of the shape the Steelers would be in if either Worilds or Timmons was hurt for an extended period of time. Too thin for my liking.

  • Paddy

    Is Jones bulking up this off season? If he comes in at the same build in May that should let us know

  • cencalsteeler

    Aside from the inflated salary and history of injuries, Woodley is a very good backer. Now, if we deflate his salary and his ego a bit, he might get back to what he’s good at- playing football! Just a hunch, but his deflated ego just might cure the injury bug he carries with him.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Thanks Dave for saying what I have been trying to say. It doesnt make sense at this moment to let Woodley go because of the depth and importance of the OLB position.

  • RMSteeler

    Steel, your comments about Carter remind me of a lot of people’s concerning both Lewis and Worilds before their contract year breakouts. Everyone it seems had them banished to the “bust” pile. Kozora’s breakdowns of Carter lead met to question Steelers linebacking coaching. Since Carter’s drafting, there have been plenty of FA’s pass through. If Carter is so bad, they couldn’t find a better option? If not, that also calls into question player evaluation. Hopefully, Porter’s influence willl make a difference with the backers. Remember when Lake came in and that is when Lewis caught fire?

  • steeltown

    Boy I hope you’re right… I think back to Lewis and Worilds stepping into the starter shoes sporadically early on and they faired pretty well, whereas when C.Carter stepped in for the rehabbing Harrison for the first few games of the ’12 season he was a complete non-factor…. but, I guess anything is possible

  • RMSteeler

    They knew JJ needed strength build when they drafted him. Think he only benched 20 times at combine. Looked to have “chicken legs” when drafted too. Lower strength at leas as important as upper. Could not the Steelers strength and conditioning program have increased his strength through the season? If not, he may not have the genetics, or S&C program with Steelers is lacking.

  • Matt Manzo

    I can’t believe we’re still talking about Carter! Please God, no!

  • Virdin Barzey

    Steeltown I’m with you. Carter looks lost, confused and more importantly he doesn’t look like a guy that can play the position at all. For a guy being on the team this long, I expect to see a few good plays from the few opportunities he gets. Still waiting.

    If you’ve gone to any of the practices, you will see that its real different than playing a game especially with the PA rules. Some guys look real good in practice and I’m thinking that’s why he’s still around.

    Never cared much for Sylvester at LB but he was pretty good on Special Teams. They kept him around for a while as well.

  • CrazyTerry

    If Jarvis cant produce int he 2nd year, then Steeelers have bigger problems than losing Woodley – having Colbert remain as GM. He was a great GM at one time. No more. Way too many busts in recent years.

  • CrazyTerry

    Carter has no business playing in the NFL. End of story.

  • CrazyTerry

    So we admit Jarvis is a bust? Because a #15 pick who is not ready to play at a decent level in year 2 is a bust. So Steelers have to admit their draft blunder if they keep Woodley.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Where did I say JJ was a bust? I do not think he is ready to start. That is why in my comment I say we cannot afford to let Woodley go AT THIS MOMENT not because JJ is a bust but so he can get to where he needs to be so in 2015 he can take the starting spot and we can let Woods venture into greener pastures. If it is your opinion that a 1st rounder cannot start in his 2nd year he is a bust that is fine but I just disagree.