By Nick Shook | NFL.com
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Larry Foote is trading his cleats for a clipboard.
The veteran linebacker — released Thursday by the Cardinals — is taking the necessary steps to join Arizona’s coaching staff, coach Bruce Arians said Thursday.
“Larry Foote will join our coaching staff (Friday) to be our inside linebacker coach,” Arians said, via the team’s official website. “He still could play. We had to go through some different things with the league — there is no such thing as a player-coach — but we’ll add him to the staff to get his coaching career started, but his playing career might not be over.”
In order to free Foote up to join the staff, he could not be under contract as a player. Due for free agency, the Cardinals expedited the process by cutting him so he could join the staff. But that doesn’t rule out a return to the field in the coming months, if he’s needed.
Arizona has questions to answer at the linebacker position. Daryl Washington remains suspended by the NFL for violating the league’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, and the Cardinals are thin in both numbers and experience at the position.
Kevin Minter is the best option at the position sans-Washington and Foote, but has just two professional seasons under his belt. Minter could use Foote’s direction, whether that’s on the field or from the sideline. If Washington doesn’t return, the team could need Foote to put off the start of his coaching career and remain on the field for the Cardinals.
But if Arizona does address the position, Foote will bring his vast NFL experience, attained in 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, one season with the Detroit Lions and one season with the Cardinals, to a sideline that recently saw defensive coordinator Todd Bowles leave to take the head coaching job with the New York Jets.
“Larry was a very passionate player, but a very, very smart player, one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around,” Arians said.
If anything, Foote will at least get a taste of the coaching life this week when he joins the Cardinals staff at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.