In a stunning, if expected, reversal of direction, the Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed home inside linebacker Larry Foote, who yesterday signed a 3 year, 9.3 million dollar contract on Monday.
In doing Foote becomes the second 2002 draft pick to leave and rejoin the team, after Antwaan Randle El returned last week.
Foote began making grumblings shortly after Super Bowl XLIII not wanting to yield his starting spot to 2007 first round draft pick Lawarence Timmons. That, combined with Foote’s high cap value, led to his release following the 2009 draft.
Foote however was not happy on the 2-14 Lions, and perhaps not entirely comfortable playing in a 4-3 system. Nonetheless, he had a chance to sign with “Pittsburgh West” aka Arizona, but opted to rejoin the team that brought him two Super Bowl rings.
Impact on the X’s and O’s
From a pure football perspective, this is an excellent move for Pittsburgh. Foote not only bolsters their run defense, a weakness of Timmons, but provides instant depth throughout the entire linebacking corps.
Foote’s return frees Timmons to move to the outside slots should something happen to James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley. Likewise, should James Farrior falter, Foote is there to step in.
Foote also gives Steelers coaches a chance to give players like Farrior and James Harrison periodic breathers.
Reading Between the Lines…
As previously mentioned on Steel Curtain Rising, there is a worrisome trend behind the Steelers newfound aggressiveness in free agency. This is a new tendency born out necessity not choice.
Each Steelers free agent move can be tied directly to a recent high round draft failure.
Had 2008 draft pick Bruce Davis panned out, the Steelers might not need the extra insurance at outside linebacking.
And with Foote return, comes the, thus far, unasked question:
Are the Steelers bringing back Foote because of concerns about James Farrior, or are they concerned about Lawrence Timmons’ development?
It is probably the former, but Timmons’ hot and cold tendencies during 2009 cast enough room for doubt.
At the End of the Day, An Excellent Move by the Steelers
All things considered the Steelers decision to bring in Larry Foote is a good one. They now have five starter capable linebackers, something few other teams can boast of, and in an age where talent is so evenly matched, the difference between winning and losing frequently comes down to depth.
By bringing Foote back they’ve shored up their depth considerably at linebacker.