Succession At Steelers OLB Position Over Years Points Towards Potential Success For Worilds

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds is now in the final year of his rookie four-year contract, and the expectations are high for the 2010 second round selection out of Virginia Tech.

When you look back at the first contract years of Worilds\’ predecessors at the outside linebacker positions, it gives you some hope that 2013 will be a breakout year for the successor to James Harrison.

In 1997, Jason Gildon was in a contract year and recorded five sacks a year after registering seven as a starter. While five is low, it was good enough to tie him for second most on the team. Keep in mind that on the other side of him that season was a deteriorating Greg Lloyd, who demanded far less respect at that stage of his career. Gildon was given a four-year contract worth almost $9 million the following offseason and would go on to average 11.25 sacks over the course of the next four seasons.

In 2001, Joey Porter was in the final year of his rookie three-year contract and recorded nine sacks and forced four fumbles that season, his second as a starter. After signing a six-year, $22.5 million deal in April of 2002, Porter recorded another nine sack season and a career high, 60 tackles.

Harrison, who succeeded Porter in 2007, recorded 16 sacks in 2008 and was named Defensive Player of the Year. It wasn\’t his final year under contract, but he was rewarded as if it was. In May of 2009, he received an extension worth over $50 million.

In the final year of his rookie contract, LaMarr Woodley registered ten sacks and three forced fumbles. In his first three years as a starter, he had recorded 35 sacks, and the Steelers had no choice but to place the franchise tag on him and work out a long-term deal, which they did.

In reality, the Steelers have not had a problem with one outside linebacker succeeding another one in recent history, at least not in the era of general manager Kevin Colbert.

How will things work out for Worilds in 2013? It is entirely up to him, but a 10 plus sack season will undoubtedly get him the franchise tag next offseason and eventually a long-term deal.

  • He should give a discount for all the previous years in which he did nothing.

  • steeltown

    Thats what worries me… I’d almost prefer Worilds have an average to good season as opposed to a breakout great season, that way come contract talks next offseason the price to retain him would be lower

    As long as he gets constant pressure on the QB and plays well against the run, I’ll be happy, even if he only gets 6-7sacks.. the name of the game is pressure

  • steeltown

    Nothing? He’s had to sit behind Harrison and Woodley.. and he still had 5sacks last season good for 2nd best on the Team

  • NW86

    Exactly. And besides, he has basically been making the minimum so far, so he has certainly earned that.

  • moderatelysane

    Never hope for mediocre performance to benefit salary negotiations. Hope for a kick butt year and work out the salary cap as needed.

  • im a bit confused as to why everybody is unsure of whether or not Worilds can step up an play… in limited action hes been pretty solid some (myself) would even say impressive.. my only concern is whether or not his body can hold up for a full seasons worth of snaps

  • Pete

    Hoping and praying. Better pray it doesn’t work out like Jonathan Scott. Management thought he was the man. That didn’t work out so well. After Worilds there’s Cris Carter and…So far the right side isn’t looking so good. If the right side isn’t a force, they can double Woodley (assuming he’s fit and healthy). LeBeau is going to have to be creative. Lets see what happens after the draft.

  • dgh57

    Yes, and Worilds had those 5 sacks in only 3 games started out of 16 games played!! Woodley had 4 sacks in 13 games started in 13 games played!!! BIG difference there!

  • walter mason

    Why would anyone double team Woodley? He can barely play one on one. Of course Im hoping Woodley will train hard in an attempt to return to his former self or we may need to sign Harrison.

  • hergieburbur

    In Worilds’ defense, for whatever reason, Management were the ONLY ones that thought the answer was Jonathan Scott.

  • steeltown


  • charles

    Personally, I have lost all confidence in Lamar. He benefitted from Harrison’s dominance. You can’t double team both OLB’s. Boy do I wish that we had kept James and let Woodley go. However we have Woodley and we will just have todo the best that we can. I think that there is a chance that no one will give James what heis agent is demanding and therefore there is still a chance that he will come back to the Steelers.

  • charles

    Actually it is possible that we have good depth at linebacker. With the current situation LeBeau may not have any choice but to play some rookies. Being on the field consistently could allow others like Robinson to have breakout year.

  • alex

    crystal ball says, Worilds has a great camp, signs a good 3 yr contract, and then crushes…been lying in wait way to long…

  • redneckmuslim

    Worilds has made some plays on Sundays already, so he has the physical tools. Most guys who make it to this level do. As much as we like to talk money and statistics, success usually comes down to things a lot less objective like confidence and motivation and pride. I am betting he rises to the occasion now that he knows without a doubt it’s all on him.

    The older I get, the more I realize I watch sports to renew my faith every year. It’s the only thing I stay consistently optimistic about. Call me crazy, but until teams start lining up and gashing him for yards I will be doing the only thing a fan can do to positively affect the outcome of games. I will be cheering for him.

  • redneckmuslim

    That’s what I’m talking about, alex. Here we go Stillers.

  • tricitysteel

    The concerns people have about Jason Worilds are durability and being able to consistently stop the run. I’m not saying Worilds shouldn’t get his opportunity, but they are valid concerns.

  • alexjoe9

    It definitely is nice to see some Steeler fans actually have faith in Worilds. I have been saying the same thing about Worilds all offseason especially since they let go of Harrison. There is definitely some faith shown in him by the front office.

  • CrRe

    Think about this for a second: Are the Steelers really serious on potentially bringing in Freeney or Dumervile? I don’t think so. I think they are ploys to further motivate Worlids. Ploys like this, would make a player who is already “chopping at the bit,” that much more hungry to show the franchise that he is the OLB and player you drafted him to be. It’s a brilliant tactic to help a player tap into his maximum talent and ability.

    Actually, if they were to bring in one of these guys, it would essentially create the opposite effect. I mean, you show the player you don’t have faith in him, which is undoubtedly what such a move would indicate, and you discourage the player (rumors create chips on shoulders, bringing in a replacement creates a throwing up of the arms). You bring in one of Freeney/Dumerville and Worilds would figure, ‘what’s the use? I play behind Harrison, and then when it’s finally my turn to shine, you bring in Freeney and/or Dumervile?’ Such a move would not help Worilds tap into his maximum talent and ability!

    For this reason, Freeney and/or Dumervile will not don black and gold, and I anticipate Worilds having a breakout year this year. And like Tomlin has already stated, “I believe that Jason Worilds is chomping at the bit to prove he is capable…,” and the rumors of Freeney and Dumervile will only intensify his desire to prove such.

  • Chris92021

    I saw something here a few weeks ago that stated that in 1000 career snaps, Worilds has 10 sacks. Given an entire healthy season amounts to 1000 snaps, 10 sacks aren’t anything to sneeze at. I feel confident Worilds will be at least adequate.