First they cut Gary Russell. Then they restructured Ike Taylor’s contract. Then they restructured and resigned Hines Ward to a new, cap-friendly contract. Now word is that inside linebacker Larry Foote wants out.
- All in the name of the salary cap.
All of this portended to Larry Foote’s departure from the Steelers. And now it appears that is about to happen, but the situation is not unfolding as expected.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune Review are both reporting that Larry Foote will leave the Steelers via trade or the wavier wire, but apparently this is happening at Larry Foote’s bidding.
Foote told the Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette:
“It was my doing. I wanted to go. They were trying to trade me.”
Bouchette reports that the Steelers did try to shop Foote during the draft and found no new takers, and that they were going to waive him this morning, but have held off for the moment because they want to give a trade another shot.
From Bouchette’s article it is hard to 100% certain whether the impetus for the trade came from Foote or not, but either way Foote is not happy in Pittsburgh.
What Have You Done for Me Lately Mr. Foote?
His comments make it clear that he is not happy about being phased out in favor of 2007 first round draft pick Lawrence Timmons. He went as far as to tell Bouchette:
James Farrior never slows down, and Timmons came in and I can’t grow here any more. They turned me into a two-down linebacker last year. I was stuck in a role. I love the team, I love winning, but you can’t keep being unhappy. It got to the point where they were not giving me a chance. [Emphasis added.]
Steelers Nation should feel no ill will to a player who wants to go somewhere where he can start, but Foote would also do well to remember that when Kendrell Bell went down to injury in early 2002, Bill Cowher turned to the rookie Foote as opposed to a more experienced back up such as John Fiala.
That was 2002. Sentimentally certainly did not lead Mike Tomlin to start Foote ahead of Timmons in 2008, but based on what he demonstrated on the field, Timmons almost certainly would have vindicated a decision to start him instead.
Careful of What You Wish For Mr. Foote
Larry Foote is not the first Steelers linebacker to ask for his release upon getting stuck behind a young Turk. And Larry Foote would be wise to learn from the cautionary tale of Jerry Olsavsky.
Injuries brought Jerry Olsavsky into the Steelers starting line up for parts of 1995 and almost all of 1996. Jerry O did well both times, but nonetheless Earl Holmes was slated to start in front of him going into the 1997 season.
Olsavsky sought and got his release during the 1997 off season. He followed Marv Lewis to Baltimore, but he did not start. He recorded ten tackles in nine games and, if memory serves, the Ravens cut him before the end of the season and he was out of football.
Larry Foote is of course a different caliber player than Jerry Olsavsky, but in Pittsburgh he’s part of the defending number one defense of the defending Super Bowl Champions.
The Steelers will probably honor Foote’s wish, (although there does seem to be some doubt about that now.) Foote is certainly good enough to land on another NFL team where he can start and perhaps stand out. But as Jerry Olsavsky’s story shows, getting your wish isn’t always the best thing that can happen to you.
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