The annual NFL Scouting Combine is generally regarded as the unofficial start of free agency as that’s when agents and teams all congregate in one city for a week full of legal tampering. This week, one Pittsburgh Steelers soon-to-be free agent appears to be the talk of Indianapolis.
According to Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, at least a dozen teams at this year’s combine have expressed “great interest” in Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds, if he is allowed to hit free agency in a little more than two weeks from now.
Worilds and Washington Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo are considered by many to be the top two unrestricted free agents at their position come the start of the new league year. Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported Sunday night that talks between the Redskins and Orakpo’s representation are ongoing and we can only assume the Steelers are also talking with Worilds’ representation this week.
Worilds stated earlier in the offseason that he hopes to stay in Pittsburgh, but only if he’s promised a starting job.
The Steelers have the option of placing the franchise tag on Worilds, but general manager Kevin Colbert said prior to leaving for the combine that it is “doubtful” they will go that route.
Depending on where the final per team salary cap number comes in at, franchising Worilds would cost the Steelers roughly $11 million and it would also give the former second-round draft pick a ton of leverage when it comes to getting that number reduced for 2014 via a long-term deal. That just can’t happen.
If the Steelers are unable to get a new deal done with Worilds between now and the start of free agency, all it will take is for one of those reported 12 teams to overpay him for him to be gone. The Steelers aren’t going to get in a bidding war to keep him, nor should they.