Setting The Facts Straight About LaMarr Woodley And Jason Worilds

With Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds now fresh off a solid two game performance, the talk about re-signing him and releasing LaMarr Woodley during the offseason is of course back in high gear. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation floating around on this subject and so it is time for me to give you the facts about the situation.

For starters, Woodley is currently scheduled to count $13.59 million against the Steelers 2014 salary cap and that includes a base salary of $8 million. Cutting or trading Woodley prior to June 1st would result in a $14.17 million dead money hit, so essentially, it would cost the Steelers another $580,000 in cap space to do either of those two things.

Sure, the Steelers could designate Woodley a post June 1 cut just like they did this past offseason with guard Willie Colon and that would eventually defer $8.58 million of the dead money until 2015. Where several are missing the boat here is the fact that Woodley would still count a full $13.59 million against the cap until June 1st if released with that designation.

Keep in mind that the Steelers need to be cap compliant by the start of the new league year and oh yeah, Worilds is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent and thus would need to be re-signed long before June 1st.

Did I mention that the Steelers will need every extra cap dollar possible this coming offseason? Had the Steelers thought they might release Woodley and keep Worilds long-term, they wouldn’t have restructured the contract of the former and pushed more potential immediate dead money into the future this past offseason. In addition, they would have made damn sure that they locked up Worilds prior to the start of this season.

Now, to the Woodley versus Worilds battle. Before suffering his calf injury, Woodley managed to post a 14.3 pass rushing productivity number, according to Pro Football Focus. That ranks him the third-best 3-4 outside linebacker in the league. Worilds, on the other hand, currently has a 10.1 pass rushing productivity number and a 11.0 number when rushing from the left side.

Woodley gets criticized for his recent missed games due to injuries and I can certainly understand the frustration of the fan base that goes along with that. However, the fan base also seems to forget just how injury prone that Worilds has been ever since he was drafted. He is on fire right now, however, and thus people refuse to include that fact in their narrative.

Look, I for one am very happy that Worilds has played well this season and I hope that it continues. However, two solid back-to-back games is just that. Should Woodley miss even more time this season and Worilds continue to fill in for him like he has the past two weeks, his free agent market value will continue to climb. There will be several teams in need of a 3-4 outside linebacker this upcoming offseason and I fully expect the Virginia Tech product to be in another uniform next season. Should he somehow wind up being retained, however, it won’t come at the expense at Woodley.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • RedCarpetDefense

    Curious to see what round of comp draft pick would be fetched should Worilds move on. A good hard look at Khalil Mack is in order should the Steelers decide to dip into another OLB in the 1st rd.

  • steeltown

    The whole release Woodley talk is ridiculous, even the espn website has an article discussing the question as to whether they should or will, the fact that the dead money relating to Woodley being released is MORE than his actual cap hit pretty much ends the discussion.

    I certainly hope the Steelers find a way to retain Worilds, we essentially have nothing behind Woodley and Jones, Worilds can play both sides and as we know Woodley hasn’t played a full 16game season since 2010. I think Worilds is the biggest offseason discussion. We know Ben, Miller and possibly Pouncey are due for contract extensions at some point but ALL mentioned are under contract for 2014. The immediate discussion must be about guys like Worilds, Hood, Keisel and Cotchery and could also throw in Velasco and Dwyer. I hope some way some how they can re-sign Worilds before the FA market opens, otherwise he’s gone

  • Menace_501

    Good to see someone actually taking a step back and looking at the reality. I love Worilds playing on fire right now and would love to see him come back. But taking Woodley spot at this point is not going to happen. I would like to see a experiment and see how it turns out though. Woodley switch sides, Worilds at Woodley spot and Timmons and Jones in the the middle. I would love to see how that would work.

  • treeher

    I think he’s gone.

  • Eric Crook

    Don’t know why everyone is giving up on Woodley…..he has been a great LB for us…injuries happen..let the dude get better and get his game back on!!!

  • JayBirdDC

    This is a good article but I think it discounts the value of potential. LaMarr is 29 and has at least shown signs with age catching up with him while Worilds has also been injured, is 25 and appears to be on the up-swing. It’s a worthy discussion for the Steelers to have and should not be dismissed outright.

  • Dan

    It’s optimistic to think that Worilds could ever be healthy for an entire 16-game season (or let’s be really optimistic: 19-game season), but it sure would be nice to have him in the OLB rotation.
    As for Woodley we are not so deep at LB that we can let him go. If some more young guys really step up next year, we can think about it for 2015, but you can’t be effective transitioning every position in the same year. And we have plenty of other transitions pending for next year, i.e. Safety, maybe some DL.

  • steeltown

    Agree about re-hashing the Woodley conversation in 2015, if he continues to struggle with nagging injury this season and it happens again in ’14

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Excellent article, Dave. I think it would be very naive to expect Worilds to stay healthy long term.

    It’s easy to love any player after he strings one or two good games together but you can’t produce from the tub. And past history suggests Worilds will end up there fairly soon.

  • steeltown

    In retrospect Woodley has missed more games (5) than Worilds since he entered the League. Obviously you could argue that Woodley played more snaps therefore had a greater chance for injury, but…

  • JohnnyV1

    Woodley’s play has not been equal to his rate of pay since he signed his big contract. The team needs him to stay healthy, put up probowl numbers and set the tone on/off the field. He doesn’t do that, in total. That usually doesn’t bode well for the player, not matter who it is, no matter what team they are on. It sends the wrong message to the rest of the team. WR Brown and QB Big Ben are just the opposite, they have the big contracts, produce on the field, and they play every week.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Worilds has played great the last two games in the LOLB spot…but on this level the sample size is way too small to consider ridding Woodley at this point imo. Please also consider…Schwartz (RT) draws about as much love from the CLE fan base as Adams did from us while playing LT….I’ve read similar feelings about the fan base of the RT in DET.

    That said…PIT does have to start letting good, still functional players go…financially and otherwise…I don’t think ’14 is the year to do it in this case.

  • Brandon James

    I really Hope we can retain worlids. With so much talent emerging right now the front office has to capitalize on this. Now obviously cutting Woodley is not something I recommend, because 1. The Cap. 2. He is one of the best 3-4 OLBs in the league when healthy. But with players starting to come out and play better such as Allen, Heyward, Worlids,Woods, Velasco (F/A next year), Even Hood since Keisel has been out. Older player contracts need to be looked at very closely this off season, because we need cap room for some of these new emerging stars.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Woodley’s availability is startlingly reminding me of Aaron Smith’s toward “the end”. Getting injured more and more playing increasingly less and less. This may be the beginning of the inevitable end for Lamarr and given his contract situation and cost to the team it could be a long drawn out forgone conclusion.

  • srdan

    Wood is 4 years older than Jason. That is an eternity in Steeler LB years. Wood is often injured and at 29 and his build there is little hope for that to get better.

    If worldis is on fire the rest of the way, I expect him to be in teh dubious franchise tag discussions. 3-4 olb prices are not as high as DE because they are in line wth 4-3 olb’s as well. But it’s a hefty price, that the steelers won’t pay unless totally forced.

    I agree with the article. I don’t htink its 56 vs 93. The money could come at the expense of Ike, heath or polumalu.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    If I were to bet on what will happen, I think Woodley is probably retained next year. But, I also think the next 5 games (and hopefully playoffs) are still a factor in how this plays out.

    I think the Steelers will be more aggressive in correcting their cap problems this off season vs. band aiding them. Paying him $8m next year if he is not an $8m player ultimately becomes $8m that doesn’t get paid to other players down the line.

    If he continues the trend of playing poorly when returning from injuries, I think it will be an interesting call for them.

  • steeltown

    But still, the franchise tag (or transition tag) for OLB is pretty hefty price tag, somewhere around $9MIL

  • srdan

    email from my cousin, that I agree with:

    “”That makes sense. He’s as good as gone. So definitely root for him to play well because of all those other things we talked about:
    1. Makes this year’s team better
    2. Pushes Woodley to play better
    3. We get a better comp pick if he’s signed to a big contract by someone else””

  • sean mcmartin

    Another round of who is leaving next season. I wanted Lewis and harrison to stay, wallace not so much. Its only about money and the team can’t afford to care about talent. The steelers have no emotional investment in anyone, Like the fans do.
    in this scenario would like kiesel and worilds to stay. they will be gone next year.
    and any other young talent that would help them stay relevant and competitive.

  • AndyR34

    Wood won’t be cut…possibly extended (again) to reduce his cap hit this year, but IMHO that would be quite a risky thing. One possibility…although a very slim and unlikely one…would be a trade. Steelers seldom do that, but it is the only way I see out of the box, unless Wood retires…an even more unlikely scenario. And Dave…the fan base is correct about one thing…the Steelers are not getting $8 million of production from Woodley…this year or the past several years. Quite a conundrum for the FO!

  • steeltown

    Trading Woodley will still entail a HUGE dead money hit in 2014

  • Fritz Baughman

    We can reference the stats from ‘Pro Football Focus’ all day, but at the end of that day – they really don’t account for much. Is it really a coincidence the Steelers have played better defensive football since Woodley went out? You tell me. Perhaps Kiesel is more of a hindrance, which was also exposed? It’s debatable.

    In truth, Woodley has not been the force that he once was and we all know that. Although PFF is a wonderful site, I don’t allow their analysis to skew the actual reality which I can see for myself on the field. The reality is Woodley has a grand total of five sacks in his nine games. Last season he finished with only four sacks and was hit with a mountain of criticism. It wasn’t long ago when Woodley was on the cusp of becoming the next dominant OLB in football. It never happened. Now, he’s a year from 30 with an injury-prone body. Not exactly something to hang your hat on, especially on a defense that needs a major youth injection.

    Regardless, a bigger issue is the situation regarding Jarvis Jones. It’s going to be awfully cranky around Steeler Nation if this kid doesn’t become the impact we all hoped for. In fact, I don’t even want to imagine it. If Worilds leaves and Jones flops? Jeesh. Just the thought of that has me reaching for the bourbon.

  • Apexsimba

    You need to tell this to the Bleacher Report crowd.

  • Dom

    I can bet my life on one thing, And that is that the Steelers will not be taking an OLB next draft with their first round pick.

  • Xclewsive

    Jason Worilds has always had the talent, but believe like he stated the LOLB comes with less responsibility. Which gives him more freedoms to just attack and not think when he’s playing. Woodley is a beast and can dominate games with sacks not just pressures/QB hits.

  • Fritz Baughman

    Thanks for reminding us of why Steeler fans are notoriously ridiculed for living in the past. We’ve been waiting three seasons for Woodley to ‘get his game back on.’ However, the injuries keep happening and he’s not getting any better. How much longer do you suggest we wait?

  • Fritz Baughman

    This is 2013, correct??

    Woodley WAS a beast that USED to dominate games with sacks and not just pressures/QB hits.

    Also, the “attack and not think when he’s playing” comment. Really? In Lebeau’s defense, they are all required to think. It’s the NFL, not the annual family reunion game at uncle Bob’s.

  • Chris Maxwell

    This is from Ed B.
    — I have no idea what the Steelers will do with LaMarr Woodley, Jason Worilds or any other personnel decisions they might have to make after the season. But here is a myth: They cannot cut/trade Woodley (or anyone else) because they would have too much “dead” money. That’s just not true.Woodley will make $8 million in salary next season and count $13.6 million against their salary cap. He has an $8.5 million salary in 2015 and counts $14 million against their cap. He has a $9 million salary in 2016 and counts $12 million against their cap. That’s about $14 million in “dead” money, which is bonus money that’s been pro-rated or salary redesigned as a bonus and pushed into the future. It does not include his salaries, which are not guaranteed.No matter what the Steelers do with Woodley – keep him, trade him, cut him – that $14 million cap hit isn’t going away. They can redistribute its affect by, for example, designating him as a June 1 release and taking a bigger cap hit in 2015 than 2014. Or they could just swallow hard and take the big hit in 2014.They also could keep him. And if they keep him, they add his $8 million salary to their salary cap count in 2014. If they would, say, release him after June 1, they would save that $8 million under their salary cap; he would still count $5.6 million, the so-called “dead” money for 2014, but that’s a lot less than $13.6 million.If they did that, his salary cap for 2015 would be a wash, about $14 million (as it now stands to be including his salary if he’s on the team) because all of the pro-rated stuff would count then. But then he would count nothing in 2016!This is not to say the Steelers will cut or trade Woodley, it is merely using him as an example to point out that when people say they cannot cut or trade a player because of the “dead” money involved, they are wrong. They actually would save money and plenty of cap room, although in this case they would no longer have the services of LaMarr Woodley.

  • Ben Anderson

    Nice post, Dave. I couldn’t agree more. this amounts to hype over a player that has played a couple of good games.

  • SteelersDepot

    you should try reading mine again.

  • steeltown

    I’d like to tell Ed that we all understand that players can be cut or traded regardless of cap and dead money ramifications, but that doesn’t mean its a good idea or in the best interest of the Team

  • MC

    I’m gonna be dissapointed with what’s inevitably going to happen to worilds. I watched him in his final year in college and watched a lot of film of him training and he has great work ethic. It’s a shame about his injuiries. To kind of disagree with the article, last season Worilds filled in admirably and racked up as many saks as Harrison as a reserve. Who knows what we could of had, had he had the opportunity to start from thte left side all along and avoid injuries. Unfortunate for him he went to a team with a stud at the LOLB spot and that was never gonna change.
    I think Worilds had the most potential on this defensive team that never really got to show it all.

  • Bell Cow

    I completely understand it’s not cost efficient to release or trade Woodley, but I sure hope they can retain Worilds.

  • Bell Cow

    Exactly right. I’ve been preaching they need to part ways with a vet like Polamalu or Taylor in order to retain Worilds. They have to continue getting younger and cheaper on defense and if that means releasing one of those guys to keep our good young talent, then so be it.

  • Eric

    Slightly off topic but it is amazing to see the shift in sentiment toward Jason since camp this summer and the pre season. I am proud to say that I always saw his potential and supported him.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I never really did but it is good to see he isn’t a total bust.

  • charles

    You want to go to the Super Bowl? Then play your best players. Khan gets paid good money to figure out salarycap issues in the offseason.

  • Luke Shabro

    Nor with their second or probably even third. Too many other glaring needs. Jarvis will get time to get better and Woodley as noted above is going nowhere

  • Luke Shabro

    Who do you suggest to start if Ike gets let go? Cortez seems like he will be good but has struggled at times this year and I hate to use the term but seems injury prone. Who starts next to him? William Gay? He’s been surprisingly good this year but I still don’t think he’s a full time starter at corner. So …. Isaiah Green? I can see why many in Steeler Nation want to give Ike the boot due to his salary, which needs to be reduced and the fact that he seems to be missing a lot of tackles. Oh and he has hands of stone like he’s always had. But again, who starts? Do you draft a guy in the first round and hope for the best? Hasn’t worked out so well for the Jets with Dee Milliner. Even highly touted guys like Patrick Peterson and Mo Claiborne have taken some time to develop. That’s my only point. I’ve always been a big Ike fan but I’m not really defending him here, just wondering what would we do if we cut him

  • Bob Graff

    Here are the problems Woodey’s making too much money, those Worilds has played well for 3 games it has mostly been at Woodley’s spot and J. Jones has yet to show if he is worth the first round pick. I think the best solution would be to restructure Woodley, sign Worilds and trade Jones while he’s still worth something. They can’t have them all and these moves would keep proven home grown talent in place.

  • Bell Cow

    Someone will have to go Luke. They can’t continue to retain high priced veterans on defense like Polamalu and Ike who will both approximately be owed a combined $17 million next season. Everyone on this site (including Dave) believe these guys will take a pay cut, but what if they refuse too? Look at what happened with James Harrison. He initially refused to reduce his salary so they had no choice but to release him. These guys are professional athletes who want to make as much money as possible and they are going to fight for every penny.

    My point is the future stars of this defense are guys like Worilds, Heyward, Jones, and Thomas. In my opinion, it would be foolish in the long term to let Worilds walk and continue to pay inflated salaries to veterans while we cross our fingers and hope they give us another good year.

    I understand your reservations about drafting rookie DBS, but I could make that same argument about every position.

  • Nolrog

    The issue here is that people understand the continual cap problems the team is suffering through and the three biggest consumers of cap space are Ben, Timmons and Woodley.
    In order to get out of this problem once and for all, it may be necessary to move one of those guys on. It makes 2014 a bit harder, but it clears a lot of space for 2015.
    At this point in the Steelers cycle though, it may be a good idea to keep kicking the can down the road and extend (and hence resructure) Ben, Timmons and Woodley, and then take the hit in a few years when Ben retires, be really terrible for a year or two and then try to rebuild.

  • Luke Shabro

    You make some good points. I saw a lot of free agents this past offseason that were pretty good and cost about half of what Ike is scheduled to make next year. We might be better off going that route and saving our cap dollars for locking up or signing younger guys as you noted. There’s a lot of stress put on the fact that it take guys a long time to learn LeBeau’s defense and I believe that. I love LeBeau but I think we can look at it and say our pass defense and at times run defense has been atrocious and maybe we need a defense where we can plug and play at least a few spots more. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong and I think you’re probably more correct. Although i don’t think we will be able
    To afford Worilds still and I’m not sure we should.

  • Luke Shabro

    I say you keep Woodley for 2014 and do NOT extend him prior to his contract expiring. But I’m just an armchair general manager. I’ll leave such decisions to Kevin Colbert.

  • Mike Carroll

    I think they keep Woodley for 2014. But, cutting him in 2015 is a very real possibility when his dead money is reduced to $8.6M with a cap savings of $5.5M (assuming they don’t foolishly restructure yet again).

  • Mike Carroll

    Yes, yes, yes!!! It’s time to speed up the transition to a new team next offseason. Keeping overpriced vets at this stage makes no sense when there are many younger players that need to be signed, most of whom will probably come at reasonable prices.

  • alex

    comp pick for 2015 when we need now people…

    and that pick will sit while he ‘learns the system’!

  • ND_Steel

    Who cares??!! It’s RAVENS WEEK!!!

  • Virdin Barzey

    The Woodley talk is indeed stupid. That’s why I don’t bother responding. We should definitely keep Worilds but the question is more on if Worilds want to stay with us.

    Hood and Will are gone or dirt cheap. Cotch, Velasco and Dwyer all should come back. Kiesel is a matter of how much is left in the tank. Its kinda empty.

  • Mike Carroll

    Agreed! It’s time to sign the next generation of players, especially when many of them will come at reasonable rates.

  • CrazyTerry

    For a QB, Ben doesnt take up much space. Woodley and TImmons take up too much space when compared with comparable players. Timmons may not be getting way too much, but remember this deal was a part of getting him resigned a couple of years before Free agency. Still, I can’t say Timmons is way overpaid. Just slightly.
    As far as Woodley, he is not worth the money, flat out. PFF doesnt even take into account the strength of players Woodley goes against. It’s rankings are one one piece of the assessment of a player.

  • CrazyTerry

    I dont care about dead money. At some point, the steelers have to face up to the cap. So dead money merely brings a faster reality check. What I really care about is if Woodley is worth the base salary and incentives he is still owed in any given year. A healthy woodley is easily worth the 8M. But an injury prone Woodley? No.

  • steeltown

    Currently, he is signed through 2016, if he continues to miss games every year he’ll not only not be offered an extension he wont finish his current deal

  • steeltown

    You want to cut Polamalu to keep Worilds?? Not happening. The only thing that could be a possibility (besides pay cuts) would be to draft a CB in the 1st Rd and again in the 3rd or 4th Rd, let Ike Taylor walk and have Cortez Allen and WillieG as your immediate starters.

    But after the recent Ike restructure I doubt that happens.

    Every year people say the sky is falling in Pittsburgh with the cap situation, but in the end it doesn’t. Troy and Ike’s back loaded contracts will be off the books soon enough

  • steeltown

    In the end, with Clark done after the season, we cant let Ike and/or Troy go.. yes we could start Cortez in Ike’s place next year but we are then one injury away from a not so good situation and what if WillieG and Cortez both get hurt.
    I want Worilds on roster as much as the next guy, but I seriously doubt its at the expense of Troy or Ike. They will be asked to take paycuts.. and actually I remember Ike Taylor already professing a year or two ago that he would take a paycut to stay in Pittsburgh

  • steeltown

    With Clark almost done, they’d be smart to retain Will Allen and if Hood is gone they better re-sign Keisel to a modest 1yr deal for depth

  • Virdin Barzey

    Agreed

  • Whcr Communicators

    great post

  • Whcr Communicators

    Great post by DaVID bRYAN

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Previously pro-rated money is already dead money. It doesn’t matter much if it is assigned to Woodley or the long snapper, it is there and doesn’t go away.

    I don’t agree with it, but I think they will keep him. The more games he misses, the harder it will be to justify another $8M to him next year.

  • Mike Carroll

    Pro-rated money goes away in the future year it is assigned to. Assuming they keep Woodley next year and don’t touch his contract, they will absorb approx. $5.6M of previously pro-rated money into their 2014 salary cap. The total dead money on his contract will then be only $8.6M in 2015.

    I agree he’s not worth another $8M in base salary next year. But, I think the alternative of cutting him is worse. That’s one the major problems with pro-rated money (via signing bonus or restructure): the team can be left with no good alternatives to manage the contract of an underperforming player.

  • Eric Crook

    At least give him 1 more season to go at it, from what I’ve read he needs to lose a little weight….