By Dale Grdnic
LATROBE, Pa. — Don’t expect outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to change one way or another now that he’s signed the second-richest contract ever for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Woodley, who agreed to a six-year, $61.5 million contract with a $22.5 million bonus, said he probably will help some family members but doesn’t need anything for himself right now. His teammates shouldn’t expect him to pick up the tab for dinner, either.
Steelers fans shouldn’t expect anything different from Woodley, either, just the same aggressive, hard-nosed, hard-hitting defensive play that has made him a favorite in a short time.
“(There’s) no added pressure at all,” Woodley said Friday. “You still have to go out and play football. People are going to expect a lot out of you because of the money you signed for, but you really should expect a lot of yourself anyway regardless of the money you sign for. I’m a competitive person, and if I didn’t sign that contract I’d still go out and give my all.
“Last year, I didn’t have a (long-term) contract, but I still went out and gave my all because that’s the kind of person I am. … Making this kind of money now is for long-term. A lot of people think the money is just for now, but I kind of look at it for the future, for my kids and my kids’ kids and be passed on for many generations. That’s always something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Woodley said that he has a three-year-old daughter.
“She knows a little bit about football,” Woodley said. “She knows Hines Ward and some of the big names on our team. I’m amazed by that, but she doesn’t understand this situation now. When she gets a little bit older, then she will understand (about the money).”
Woodley was given the franchise tag after last season and was scheduled to make $10 million for that one-year contract this season. That number can be cut in half now, so the Steelers saved some more money in that regard.
“I had the franchise tag, and I was pretty excited about that,” Woodley said. “I’m excited mostly because it’s a long-term deal, and I know I’m going to be around here for a long time. That’s something I wanted to happen when I first came in the door and saw the great linebackers who had come through here.
“I wanted to be a part of that great tradition and history around here, but to do that I had to be around here. Definitely I have my opportunity to leave my stamp when I’m done playing here.”
Woodley is the Steelers’ highest-paid defensive player now and second-highest behind quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Fellow Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison received $20 million guaranteed in 2009 on a six-year $51.175 million deal, while Roethlisberger got an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008.
Ever since news broke early Friday morning about Woodley’s new contract, his teammates have been harassing him, asking what he’s going to purchase and what he can do for them. Woodley noted some of the better comments.
“Somebody asked me if I was going to buy an island,” Woodley said. “Somebody told me to buy the camera from the cameraman and buy him a new one. Am I gonna buy a yacht. All kinds of jokes. Dinner on me. Everything. They want me to get rid of my old Buick Roadmaster car that I’ve got.
“(But) I can’t get rid of that. I really don’t need anything. Honestly. I’m not moving. When I came to breakfast with my headphones on, they made me take them off and have been talking ever since. I guess it’s going to last about a week or so, but I can’t wait until it’s over.”
Woodley, 26, was the Steelers second-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and has been a starter the past three seasons and has opened 47 regular-season games during that span with improved play every year.
Woodley was named to his first Pro Bowl following the 2009 season after leading the Steelers with 13.5 sacks. He has 39 career sacks with three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown last season, seven forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries overall.
Woodley has posted at least 10 sacks in each of his last three seasons, and he holds the NFL record with four consecutive post-season games with at least two sacks. In seven career postseason games, he has 11 sacks, including three in Super Bowls, which is tied for second on the all-time list.