Veteran linebacker Larry Foote was a key piece of the Cardinals’ defense in 2014, and while he’ll contribute to the unit again in 2015, it may be as a coach rather than as a player. According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports (via Twitter), Arizona is adding Foote to its coaching staff. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s officially retiring as a player — Marvez adds that Foote will have to decide before the 75-man roster cutdown in August whether or not he wants to play.
Foote, 34, spent all but one season of his NFL career with the Steelers prior to the 2014 campaign, having played briefly for the Lions in 2009. However, heading to Arizona to play for the Cardinals seemed like a natural fit for the Michigan product, since it reunited him with ex-Steelers assistant Bruce Arians. When injuries and a year-long suspension for Daryl Washington decimated the Cardinals’ linebacking corps, Foote gamely stepped up and played more than 1,000 snaps for the club, recording 88 tackles and a pair of sacks.
Still, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Foote 56th out of 60 qualified inside linebackers, and the longtime Steeler will turn 35 in June, so he may decide he doesn’t have any more football left in him. If that’s the case, Foote will end an impressive career with 807 total tackles, 25 sacks, and 10 forced fumbles in 187 contests (134 starts).
If Foote decides to continue his career, he would have to sign a new contract with the Cards, since he’s currently set to become a free agent. Arians also notes that the former fourth-round pick would have to give up his role as a coach in that scenario, since the NFLPA wouldn’t allow him to be a player and coach (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com).