Free Agent Focus: Steelers on Firm Footeing with Larry…

When injuries prevented Kendrell Bell’s from starting the Steelers 2002 season, Steelers Nation expected Bill Cowher to turn to linebacker John Fiala. Fiala had worked his way the Steelers via special teams and many felt he had the look of a Jerry Olsavsky type player.

Cowher instead handed the baton to that year’s 4th Round pick Larry Foote, who started three games that year, and while he did not become cement his first string status until 2004, Foote went on to start Super Bowl XL and Super Bowl XLIII.

Unable to beat out James Farrior and feeling Lawrence Timmons breathing down his neck Foote went to Detroit in 2009 only to return a year later. He backed up Farrior and Timmons in 2010 and 2011 and played well when his number was called. James Farrior’s departure after 2012 paved the way for Foote to return to his starting role in 2012.

Steelers Likely to Put the Best Foote Forward

Larry Foote came close to leading the team in tackles in 2012 and had his best year ever in terms of sacks. He also played that immeasurable role in getting the defense lined up properly.

But Foote had difficulties in coverage and was a half step behind at times. Foote is not the future in at inside tackle in Pittsburgh but he clearly has something left.

  • Expect the Steelers to find the salary cap space to sign Foote

“Having something left” is something that Foote shares with fellow free agents Max Starks, Ramon Foster and Casey Hampton, yet none of these men is expected back.

Why is Foote different?

First, Larry Foote can likely be signed for the veteran minimum, or close to it.

Second, Foote knows how to get everyone on the defense lined up correctly, which is not something to underestimate in a Dick LeBeau defense.

Third is the depth chart. Stevenson Sylvester hasn’t shown much since he was a rookie, and there’s no way the team can bank on contributions from Sean Spence. Chris Carter has potential which quite frankly means one thing for someone coming off an NFL rookie season, after that the word begins to take on additional meaning.
The bottom line is that the Steelers clearly will benefit from the depth and experience at inside linebacker and Foote is the only one who can deliver.

Scenario that Sees the Steelers Stumbling over Foote

The Steelers have salary cap issues, and the NFL cap is not expected to rise much for even in 2015. Larry Foote could get caught up in a numbers game if say the Steelers keep James Harrison but at a higher salary than anticipated.

Or a free agent signing elsewhere could become available that makes Foote expendable.

Or the Steelers could simply decide for a more thorough renewal of their roster. But that’s not likely as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the Steelers are already in talks with Larry Foote about coming back.

Thanks for visiting. Click here for the rest of Steel Curtain Rising or here to see our Steelers 2013 Free Agent Focus.
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