With the entire NFL all riled up about the Ben Roethlisberger suspension, saying that it will stop the Steelers from making the playoffs and end their dynasty once and for all, everyone seems to have forgotten the Steelers' defense.
The defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers is something special, and has always been the key to the Steelers' Super Bowl years. Consider the 2008 season: They had the No. 1 ranked defense, and were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 against the pass and run respectively, without allowing a single 100-yard rusher throughout the season!
One of the key members of this stunning defense is LaMarr Woodley.
Now that the Steelers have extended Mike Tomlin's contract for another three years, it seems the next important piece to extend is LaMarr Woodley's. He is a force to be reckoned with and as opposing offenses are always paying attention to Harrison, Woodley can get into the backfield and disrupt the play. He has shown he is just as good as Harrison.
The thing to note here is that he is younger than Harrison by about five years, so he may want more money. However, we are talking about a Pittsburgh Steelers player, so they care more about Lombardi Trophies than they do about money.
As such, I expect him to get six years just like Harrison did, and get a bit less than the $52 million Harrison got. I also expect about the same in guaranteed money. Something like a six-year $50 million contract with $20 million in guaranteed money, and maybe $9 million in signing bonus.
So, if I can find a reasonably fair deal, why have the Steelers not extended his contract?
The answer is the CBA. As long as a new CBA has not been chosen, the Steelers cannot really know how much money they would have left to sign other players. So with all the money tied up in their core players (Roethlisberger, Harrison, Polamalu, etc.), they need to know how much they are able to spend on Woodley.
So why worry about it?
Well if the new CBA gives the Steelers very little wiggle room, then they may not be able to sign him and he can be a significant contributor on a different team. This is a very real threat, but with the fiscal prudence the Steelers have it should be resolved.
That is also due to the fact that Woodley is more important to the Steelers' success than Roethlisberger. Yes, Big Ben gives more hope with his scrambling style of play, but Woodley helps completely shut down the running game. Besides, the Steelers have done well without Big Ben in the past (the Ravens game and the game the Browns lost the year before when we had Leftwich).