Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is bringing in a familiar face to help shore up the defense. Linebacker Larry Foote and the Cardinals agreed to a one-year contract on Tuesday, ensuring the veteran a chance at playing a 13th NFL season.
Foote, 33, told the Associated Press (via Yahoo Sports) the deal was done. The Cardinals have not officially announced the contract at this time, though an official statement should be imminent.
Foote and Arians have a relationship going back to their days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Arians was on the Steelers' offensive staff from 2004-11, serving first as a wide receivers coach before taking over as offensive coordinator. Foote has played all but one of his 12 NFL seasons in the Steel City, emerging from a fourth-round pick into one of the club's defensive stalwarts.
The Steelers released Foote for salary cap purposes in March. While it seemed possible a reunion could come later this offseason—the organization and Foote built a strong relationship over their decade together—Foote indicated in an interview with The Fan Morning Show last month his days as a Steeler were over.
“I doubt it,” Foote said. “If they wanted me, they would have kept me.”
Terms of Foote's deal with the Cardinals are unknown at this time. Given that he's an aging veteran at a position where cheap talent is often found on the free agent market, it's unlikely the contract carries much of a guarantee beyond the league minimum. Foote has been staunch in his stance that he would not take only the minimum, though, so it will be interesting to see the dollar figure.
“I got a couple offers,” Foote said. “I don’t want to come off stupid, but I just don’t want to play for the league minimum. So I’m hoping, summertime or whatever after the draft, that they can up the ante a little bit, and I’ll play. I’m not going to play for the league minimum.”
Foote played in only one game last season after rupturing his biceps in Week 1. It was the first time in his career he's ever missed more than two games in a season.
Foote's last full campaign, in 2012, saw him go through something of a renaissance, setting a career-high with 113 total tackles and tying a high with four sacks. He had largely been a situational player in the two seasons prior, after returning from a one-year stint with the Detroit Lions.
Arizona likely expects a version far closer to his 2010 and 2011 form than 2012. Kevin Minter and Daryl Washington already have the Cardinals' starting inside linebacker positions wrapped up, so Foote will plug in as depth and as the proverbial leader.
His presence should also help the Cardinals set their draft board. Having Foote around isn't going to stop the coaching staff from taking a linebacker it likes, but it pushes depth at the position down a few pegs on the needs list. Arizona can afford to wait until the later rounds or pick up undrafted free agents rather than targeting a Shayne Skov type, knowing it will have Foote ready as an injury replacement.
Odds are that's what this signing amounts to. It's not even 100 percent certain that Foote even makes the team out of camp. But in the event Washington or Minter gets hurt, Arians will have someone he knows and is comfortable with manning the middle.
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