The Steelers, who scrambled to get under the salary cap the past week, came to terms with linebacker LaMarr Woodley on a six-year, $61.5 million contract in the middle of the night.
The deal includes a $22.5 million bonus and will significantly reduce his previous salary cap number. He was to be on the books for about $10 million in 2010 because of the franchise tag the Steelers applied to him. His new salary cap number could be about half of that.
The deal makes the outside linebacker the highest paid player on defense and second-highest on the team behind only quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Woodley said on Wednesday that he did not think the sides were close on a new deal and had only opened formal negotiations on Monday.
Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org .