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LaMarr Woodley would be the Steelers' second-biggest salary cap expenditure in 2014 with a hit of almost $13.6 million, according to Spotrac.
Woodley is among five players who count for more than $67 million against the cap. The other four are Ben Roethlisberger, Ike Taylor, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu. Those five players figure to take up more than 50 percent of the salary cap in 2014.
Someone has to go.
It's not going to be Roethlisberger. Polamalu is a Pro Bowler. Timmons didn't have his best season, but the instability at the other inside linebacker position didn't help and he'll be only 28 next season. Taylor will be 34 and his skills are starting to diminish. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked him 36th among the 40 cornerbacks who played at least 75 percent of their team's snaps this season. But at least Taylor stayed healthy in 2013.
That leaves Woodley.
He's missed 14 games over the past two-and-a-half seasons and has just nine sacks during that time. His injuries have been preventable. According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, his injuries suggest a lack of conditioning
"He just repeatedly gets injured in ways that infuriate the coaching staff," Kovacevic told me Thursday on Black N Gold Central.
Kovacevic said on the show that Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review looked at the play that presumably knocked Woodley out for the season against Cincinnati, and all he did was jump up slightly.
Woodley also will turn 30 next season. If the Steelers make a big investment in Worilds and if Jarvis Jones picks up where he left off in the season finale, which was his best game, that will be their outside linebacker tandem in 2014.
There would then be no sense in keeping Woodley around at that price.