Steelers LB Jason Worilds Wants To Start If He Returns Next Season

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds will be an unrestricted free agent come the start of the new league year and the former second-round draft pick is open to re-signing as long as he is able to start.

“If the circumstances are right, for sure,” Worilds told Friday during a telephone interview, according to Scott Brown. “They haven’t been right for me in the past. I wouldn’t want to fall back into (not starting) again.”

Worilds, who started the 2013 season at right outside linebacker, was quickly overtaken on the depth chart by rookie first-round draft pick Jarvis Jones, but won back the spot by Week 7. When left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley went down with a calf injury in Week 10, however, Worilds took over as the starter on that side and finished the season as the team leader in sacks with eight.

With Woodley now having missed 14 games over the course of the last three seasons due to hamstring, ankle and calf injuries, the Steelers likely now have to decide whether or not to keep him or Worilds, who figures to be one of the top two or three free agent 3-4 outside linebackers on the market come March. Releasing Woodley as a post June 1st cap casualty would eventually clear $8 million in salary cap space come that date, but would also result in a 2015 dead money charge of $8.58 million.

During a conference call with season ticket holders a few weeks ago, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said that he hopes Worilds can be re-signed. As for right now, the Virginia Tech product is just waiting for the Steelers to tell him what their plans are for him.

“I’ve just been patient and (waiting to) see how the Steelers view me,” Worilds said, per the report by Brown “The biggest thing is just being in the right situation.”

Releasing Woodley or not re-signing Worilds would leave the Steelers with serious depth issues at the outside linebacker position and would almost guarantee that another early draft pick would need to be spent on the position in May. In addition, Jones really didn’t produce during his rookie season despite playing nearly 650 snaps.

The Steelers still have Chris Carter under contract for one more season, but he’s shown virtually nothing in the 235 defensive snaps that he’s played since being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Keeping both Worilds and Woodley would be a sign that Jones still isn’t ready to start and unless he were to be moved inside, which is highly unlikely to happen, it would result in him being relegated to mostly playing special teams during his second season.

We told you that this would be a talking point all offseason and it will continue to be for at least six more weeks. Worilds holds a lot of leverage right now and his side knows it.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I can’t believe this article mentions Chris Carter. Really? You could have mentioned air and it would be more relevant to this article.

    Jason is correct that the biggest thing is being in the right situation. He must have learned from Harrison’s experience in Cincy. Not all 3-4 defenses are created equal and there will be some 4-3 teams calling as well.

    Lets see if he takes the money and run like Mr. Wallet in Miami.

  • Jason Chadwell

    Worlids has every right to want to start and he needs to be resigned keep all three lbs and have a nice rotation because jj is playing for nothing and Woodley will be gone the following year

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    He will start if he is re-signed. The only question regarding him re-singing is how much he will cost. if they can’t get him for a price in the $4M range then they should use that money elsewhere on a moderately priced cap casualty.

    If Woodley and and Worilds are both on the open market at the start of the signing period, it will be interesting to see who gets more and how much each of them get.

  • greeny

    They have to start him and rotate JJ in on sub packages. Woodley will stay this year and give us 5 good games.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Jones isnt ready so it would make sense to keep both Woodley and Worlids if financially possible. When Woods contract is up then we part ways (unless we see a big difference in his health and production) and JJ gets his chance to be the star. It would be a no brainer that Worlids would start and not sure it was necessary for him to mention that but I guess with the wishy washy Tomlin you never know who will start.

  • steeltown

    Very true.. in the perfect scenario we keep Woodley and re-sign Worilds, then next offseason release Woodley when the cap ramification of releasing him are far less and presumably they have already drafted depth from this year and next years draft to play behind Worilds and Jones

  • Eric MacLaurin

    As big as his cap hit is, keeping him for another year costs another 10 mill or so that is also added to the cap. If he was likely to be worth 10 mil next year that would be one thing but is he?

  • kakello34

    I’d bet Jones will play a lot more than special teams in his second season. It’s only a matter of time before Woodley pulls a calf or hamstring again.

  • Jason Chadwell

    And keep worlids on the left and Woodley on the right side

  • steeltown

    Considering we have no depth not sure they have a choice, contrary to popular belief the Steelers are competing for the SB every year and will do what they feel gives them the best chance to accomplish that. His dead money charge in ’15 is far more bearable should he fail to impress or stay healthy this year and Jarvis will have another full season of honing his craft.. not sure its doable but it makes the most sense

  • Eric MacLaurin

    8 mil in cash and cap isn’t used if woodley is cut. You could get a couple of mid level free agents using that space and the team would be better in the long and short term. The real question is do you cut him because you simply need the cap space?

    Looking at it as a simple question of what would be best to do for the team in 2014 with 8 mil in cash and cap space. Woodley doesn’t make the top 10.

  • steeltown

    But then the issue is that the $8MIL isn’t available till post June 1st when the FA market will be slim pickins

  • Eric MacLaurin

    That is almost exactly what you need for the draft class so you need to clear 8 mil in the fall no matter what.

  • steeltown

    Well yes, the cap needs to be made compliant and managed accordingly regardless. There’s ways to get it there without releasing Woodley, but of course releasing him makes it much easier in the long run

  • dkoy85

    The way I look at it they could actually use the projected 8mil for cutting Woodley post June to pick up a free agent or two during free agency(before they release Woodley) then use the post June money to sign the draft picks. Would that even be possible?

  • Axe Skot

    With no real depth outside, you would have to try to keep both Worilds and Woodley. My preference right now if I could only keep one would probably be Worilds (because his body has the wear and tear of a second or third year player), but I think Woodley still has a lot left and when healthy is an undeniable force. I saw Woodley in person this year, and although a large man, I was surprised by how thin he looked to me. I think that it may be unfair to characterize him as overweight or lazy, I just didn’t see it. Ideally, I think you start those two and put the pressure on Jones to take one of their jobs. Of course, we’ll see if they can make the contracts work on both sides and with the cap.

  • westernsteel

    Woodley’s glory years might be in the past, but he isn’t awful when healthy…….even though its rare. I am scare to loose Worilds in free agency, leaving woodley and jones as starters….would be nice to have all three of those guys on the roster.

  • PA2AK

    If they keep Woodley, he will play lights out on the right side. He’ll be playing his last year in Pittsburgh and know it. Worilds hopefully continues to impress on the left and JJ rotates in packages with/without Woodley, giving him the much needed time to develop that he clearly needs. It bides some time to fill the OLB position…which is key considering depth everywhere else on the defense. Seems like the smartest move to me. Of course, they still need to have a come to Jesus meeting with a few other vets to get this cap scenario more favorable and realistic going forward (Troy, Ike, Heath, Foote, Kiesel, Clark)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    He always plays lights out until he’s injured and pending free agency doesn’t make a player less injury prone

  • Eric MacLaurin

    If you clear enough space to keep woodley you would also have enough for the draft picks as part of that process. You could then use that draft pick money for free agents and replace it with a post June cutting of Woodley

  • Tim Foden

    First of all, I believe every player should want to start. If they don’t want to start, i question their drive. Second, I don’t understand players asking for a starting job as part of contract negotiations. If I were the owner, I would never guarantee a starting role; only the chance to compete. If a player can’t win the job, they don’t start, end of story.