Steelers Cut LB Woodley; Sign Panthers’ Safety Mitchell
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers released linebacker LaMarr Woodley on Tuesday, with a post-June 1 designation to save money under the salary cap and signed free agent safety Mike Mitchell from the Carolina Panthers.
Mitchell first announced on Twitter that he has signed with the Steelers and his agent Brian Hamilton confirmed the signing to The Associated Press.
Financial terms were not released. The Steelers have not announced the addition of Mitchell.
“First I have to thank God for this blessing and Mr. Rooney and the Steelers organization for such a great opportunity!” Mitchell wrote on Twitter.
Mitchell started 14 games last season for the Carolina Panthers and had 66 tackles, four interceptions, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for the league’s second-ranked defense.
Mitchell came to Carolina after four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, mostly in a reserve role.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Mitchell brought an attitude to the Carolina defense, regularly collecting personal fouls and league-imposed fines for late hits.
By releasing Woodley with a post-June 1 designation, the Steelers free up about $8 million in salary cap space in 2014. The money saved will likely go toward signing the team’s selections in the NFL draft in May.
Woodley will, however, count $8.5 million against the team’s cap number in 2015.
Selected by the Steelers in the second round (46th overall) of the 2007 draft out of Michigan, Woodley signed a six-year, $61.5 million contract in 2011, but has struggled to remain healthy. He missed at least three games in each of the last three seasons as hamstring and other lower body issues kept him sidelined for long stretches.
The turning point came in a 25-17 win over New England on Oct. 30, 2011. Woodley sacked Tom Brady twice in that game, but also left with a strained hamstring. He had nine sacks at the time of the injury, played in two games the rest of the way and could never seem to rediscover the productivity that made Woodley and James Harrison one of the most feared outside linebacker combinations in the league.
Woodley, 29, failed to get a sack after Oct. 20 last year and ended the season on injured reserve. While Woodley sat with calf problems, Jason Worilds thrived. He led Pittsburgh with eight sacks and the Steelers made the fifth-year linebacker their transition player.
Woodley started 81 of 94 games during the regular season as well as seven of eight postseason games in his seven years with Pittsburgh. He made the Pro Bowl and selected second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press in 2009.
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