Lamarr Woodley isn’t going to be a free agent this season. As long as there are no surprising rule changes in the new CBA, Woodley will be able to play 2011 under the franchise tag.
It seems likely that the team will extend Woodley as soon as possible, and it was rumored that there was a handshake agreement in place before the lockout began, but there’s nothing finite right now. If it stays that way, it could become a huge problem.
Woodley is likely to command a huge salary (and an even bigger salary increase) on the open market, so Pittsburgh needs to make sure he never gets that far. Bidding wars are bad news for the Steelers, who won’t overspend to keep someone on the roster.
If they don’t extend Woodley before the season, they may have to negotiate in season, which isn’t their policy and isn’t very easy. If that fails too, they may have to start looking at alternate scenarios for 2012 and beyond.
Even with Jason Worilds growing as an understudy, that’s not a good situation to be in come next offseason.