The Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced at 4 PM that they have released veteran outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
The move was widely reported yesterday by various sources, but had to come today due to the fact that they released him with a post-June 1 designation, which can only take place once the new league year begins.
In seven years with the Steelers, Woodley has played in 94 games, 81 of them as a starter, recording 355 tackles, 57 sacks, five interceptions, nine forced fumbles, nine fumbles recovered, and three defensive touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2009.
Woodley added another 11 sacks in the postseason, recording two sacks in each of his first four postseason contests, including a strip sack of Kurt Warner to seal Pittsburgh’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.
Following the 2010 season, which ended in a Super Bowl appearance, the Steelers signed Woodley to a six-year contract worth $61.5 million, but injuries soon derailed his career.
After a somewhat timid first quarter of the 2011 season, Woodley went on a tear during the second quarter, with fellow pass rusher James Harrison sidelined for that stretch. Woodley notched 7.5 sacks during that span, including two sacks on Tom Brady, but he pulled his hamstring going for a third.
It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Woodley has never been quite the same since.
By and large, he lumbered through the 2012 season, mustering just four sacks while missing three more games due to injury. He looked to be getting back into the groove to start the 2013 season, earning a sack in five of the Steelers’ first six games, but he failed to record another sack after that.
Then he suffered a calf injury. Then another. The chronic soft tissue injuries had become a concern for the organization, a topic that general manager Kevin Colbert touched on during interviews this offseason, contrasting his injury history with that of Troy Polamalu and how a new workout regimen kept him on the field in 2013.
Polamalu was rewarded with a two-year contract extension, while Woodley is now a free agent.
The Steelers will split his cap hit over the next two seasons. Thanks to frequent restructures over the years to get into cap compliance, the cost is high, but it’s one they had little choice but to make.