Being that the NFL—CBA is in it's last year, the dreams of the players that there would be no salary cap, ended up being more of a nightmare. The massive contracts were never handed out, and players that would have been restricted free agents, had no choice but to accept one year tenders.
Many players that have out played their contracts are looking for a raise, and in a lot of those cases, a deserved one. The problem is, without the CBA, players cannot receive a raise that would give them more than an additional 30 percent increase.
Some players, that were selected in the first round of the draft they were in, such as Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers, were able to get a big raise, but only because of their due salary, and it being in the last year of his deal.
Most of his money is paid in two large signing bonuses, but with signing bonuses not able to exceed 40 percent of the contract, players that were taken after the first round, are having to suffer.
The biggest name we are hearing about this situation is Tennessee Titans running back, Chris Johnson.
Johnson believes that he should be the highest paid offensive player in the NFL. He has stated that he deserves to be paid that, because he is the best player on offense in the NFL, in his opinion.
The problem is, he was drafted in the second round of the draft, and is scheduled to earn near $500,000 this year. Regardless of what the Titans may want to pay him, the most they would be able to raise his salary is around $300,000 this year. And that will not even bring him close to the top tier players in the NFL.
This brings us to the point of this article. What are the Steelers going to do with LaMarr Woodley?
Had there not been an expiration to the CBA, then Woodley would have probably signed a contract extension this off season, for around six years, and near $50 million dollars.
Having proven himself to be an asset, and the next in the amazing line of Steelers great line backers, Woodley deserves the pay day, that is coming due.
If Woodley were to become a free agent after the 2010 season, you could bet that he would probably be one of the most sought after free agents available.
In addition, the Steelers may not even be able to place a "Franchise" tag on Woodley to prevent him from leaving the team.
So, what are the Steelers to do about this? Is it possible that LaMarr Woodley will be able to leave the Steelers? Not if I were running the team.
Yes, it is true that you cannot re-sign a player, because of the 30 percent rule, for more than 30 percent of what he is currently making. But there is a way around this, and I hope that the Steelers are listening.
What the Steelers need to do, is sit down with Woodley and his agent, and simply explain to him, that there is NOTHING in their power that they can do to give him more money this year.
Then work out his new contract.
Once Woodley's contract expires, or he is released, then there is no rule to govern how much the Steelers can pay him. Work out the money, the years, and all the other things.
Then, about three weeks into the pre-season, release him.
At this point, there is really no team that Woodley would be able to sign with, and catch on quickly enough to be a contributor in the first few weeks of the season. Then, re-sign him, to the contract that has already been agreed to.
On one hand, the Steelers would be taking the chance of losing one of the best players on their defense. But, there is a trust factor, knowing the Steelers and how they operate, and that they are consistent with the way they handle their business, that Woodley wants to come back to the team that has already given him one Super Bowl ring.
On the other hand, Woodley knows that the Steelers are the team that drafted him. He knows the loyalty of the Rooney family. And he knows what he means to the Steelers.
Besides, the Steelers would have already met the salary demands he said that he wants.
The fact is, after this season, the Steelers may lose him anyway. Why not take the chance now, to avoid the possible loss next year?