At the time, Larry Foote thought it was the perfect move. The Steelers' linebacker had seen his playing time dwindle with Lawrence Timmons stepping in to his starting inside linebacker spot. And more than anything, he wanted to be a starter, knowing he still had a lot left in the tank.
With one-year remaining on his contract, Foote made it known he wanted to start and would not object if the Steelers released him to give him the opportunity to do so elsewhere.
He got his wish, being released in May, 2009, and it looked like the perfect scenario came in to play when he signed a one-year deal with his hometown team, the Detroit Lions.
But it took only one season for Foote to realize, as far as football goes, Pittsburgh was home. When he became a free agent after the season with the Lions, he signed a three-year deal to return to the Steelers.
Foote would have been able to hit the open market again this year, but before he became a free agent the Steelers re-signed him to a new contract.
"This is home," said Foote. "The bottom line is this is home. Playing for the black and gold is the pinnacle. No other organization can match the experience of being a Pittsburgh Steeler. The way the fans travel, Sundays at Heinz Field, it's all special.
"There are a lot of great relationships I have here. You want to hold on to them for as long as you can. You know at some point it's going to come to an end and you won't see those guys as much, so be together with the guys in the locker room, I want to cherish the time we have together."
Foote is relieved that the contract was signed, sealed and delivered before the free agent tour officially was underway, not having to deal with the insanity it can bring.
"You always want to be wanted, especially in this organization, with the great people there, from the players, to the coaches, all of the staff," said Foote. "When you spend so much time with people it's rough to leave that. We know in football people are out the door left and right. But I have been in Pittsburgh for 10 years and it's amazing. I don't know too many people that would choose to go elsewhere and not want to hang around Dick LeBeau. That was a major factor. Plus linebackers coach Keith Butler. We have a great time together. The relationships are strong."
There was some interest shown in Foote prior to the official start of free agency. There is a new three-day period that leads into free agency where teams can negotiate with player's agents, and for Foote that was making things tough.
"I had to weigh my options, but I wanted to be here," said Foote. "With the new thing this past weekend I have been going back and forth in my mind, hearing different offers and the business part of it. I was considering what if I went other places, had to visualize it. But then I kept thinking things would work and lucky enough they did.
"I am happy. My wife is happy. The kids are happy. That's how it should be. I love it. It's a big time relief. I wanted to finish a Steeler. Pittsburgh is my home."
Foote even said when he was with Detroit that he would never miss a Steelers night game, always cheering them on with the same passion he cheers for the others teams he loves, which includes the University of Michigan and Los Angeles Lakers.
"People that know me know I am passionate and crazy about my sports teams," said Foote. "I am known to break a couple of remote controls. The year I was in Detroit I was a Steelers fan, a fanatic, I was crazy. I am sure when I am done playing I am going to be home with the kids screaming and yelling and being a part of Steelers Nation from a fan perspective.
"I understand why people love the Steelers. It's our style of play, our team. I was one of those crazy fans when I was watching."