The inevitable came to pass on Monday when the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the release of longtime starter Larry Foote.
The circumstances over his departure are a bit murky to say the least. The Steelers are painting this as a salary cap move but if that were the case, why wait until now? If they released him months ago, they could have used some of his $2.89 million salary to try and woo free agents. Also, with the recent release of Gary Russell and the restructuring of Hines Ward‘s contract, the Steelers are well under the cap. There was no pressing need to cut anybody, let alone somebody making a measly salary.
Reading between the lines, it appears the salary cap excuse is simply a way for the Steelers to save face. Foote has given several recent interviews noting his unhappiness over sharing playing time with second year LB Lawrence Timmons. Apparently, he sensed the writing was on the wall as far as Timmons taking his place on a full time basis so he wanted out now while his value was high as the incumbent starter on a championship team. He also may have heard rumors of the Steelers trying to trade him and preferred a release so he could sign with the team of his choice. Pittsburgh’s hand was forced when he didn’t show up to minicamp last week so rather than deal with a sulking distraction, they simply cut the cord. Foote has been quoted as saying he’d like to take his two Super Bowl rings and spend the final years of his career playing for his hometown Detroit Lions. Good luck with that.
In the meantime, this is the 2nd starter from the NFL’s best defense to not be returning next year with CB Bryant McFadden already having left for Arizona Pittsburgh West. Timmons did see his playing time increase steadily as the season progressed but has yet to prove he’s an every down player. While a tremendous athlete who made some terrific plays when brought in on passing downs, Timmons is a bit on the small side and will have to prove he can play the run as well as the pass. Foote was a solid if unspectacular player whose dependable play earned him a spot in the starting lineup in every game since winning the job back in 2004.
Thanks for everything, Big Foote. You will be missed.
Topics: 2008 Steelers Roster, 2008 Super Bowl Champions, 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2009 Steelers Roster, 2009 Super Bowl Champions, Arizona Cardinals, Bryant Mcfadden, Detroit Lions, Foote, Larry Foot, Larry Foote, Lawrence Timmons, Nice Pick Cowher, Pittsburgh Steelers, Steel Curtain, Steeler Nation, Steelers Blog, Steelers Offseason, Steelers Roster