Categorized | 2014 Salary Cap, Article

Exploring The NLTBE Incentive Route In 2014 With Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley


By now, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley has probably heard about fellow linebacker Jason Worilds being transition tagged and subsequently accepting his one-year offer of $9.754 million with the prospects of that resulting in a long-term deal. If he hasn’t, he should probably get on the internets as soon as possible. So, with Woodley’s future status now taking center stage, what options do the Steelers have with him outside of an outright release?

As I mentioned in my previous post, Woodley is scheduled to earn $8 million in 2014 with no guarantee that he starts. The Steelers simply can’t allow money to be spent that way and that’s why the Michigan product is currently the giant elephant in the room right now. If released outright, regardless of whether or not it is recorded as a post June 1 release, Woodley would have a tough time finding a team willing to pay him $8 million for one season based on his recent injury history.

The Steelers could of course ask Woodley to take a straight pay cut of $4-$5 million in order to stay and prove himself, but the veteran linebacker might decide to see if he could earn that same money elsewhere along with a guarantee he starts. Another option the Steelers could present to him would include him turning around half of the $8 million he is scheduled to earn into a NLTBE (not likely to be earned incentive) based on playing time.

So how would a NLTBE incentive work and be structured? There are several options to that, but here’s one example. $4 million of Woodley’s $8 million salary could be tied to him being on the active game roster every week. I’m not entirely sure how that is written up contractually, but Detroit Lions safety Louis Delmas had something similar tied to his contract in 2013 that kicked in at the end of the season because he played more than 42% of the defensive snaps. In short, Delmas, according to Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com, earned $109,375 for every game that he was on the 46-man roster. In the case of the Woodley example, his incentives could equate to $250,000 for every game he is on the active roster and that would give him the opportunity to earn back the other $4 million.

Now, if the example used above was agreed to by both sides, Woodley’s cap number in 2014 would decrease by $4 million, however, for every game that he earned $250,000 for, the Steelers would be debited that amount against their 2015 salary cap. In other words, Woodley’s currently scheduled cap charge in 2015 could go up as high as $18.09 million. At that point, the Steelers would be back in the same boat they’re in right now, but hopefully with a player that played in all 16 games and registered at least 10 sacks. See the dilemma, here for both sides? Woodley would still be back on the cutting block next offseason, however, he’d have been given the opportunity to increase his free market value.

Do I think Woodley and the Steelers will go the NLTBE route? No, but I also never thought the Steelers would use the transition tag on Worilds, either. In the end, I think Woodley will be asked to take a pay cut or be cut.

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About Dave Bryan

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

    Yes, on another Woodley post I suggested a straight pay cut with some contract incentives. He saw what happened to Harrison, who turned down the Steelers offer and went to Cleveland for less money. I think he will deal, but you never know.

  • steeltown

    Yes but Harrison was 34yrs old at the time

  • treeher

    Good point, but remember also that he didn’t have the wear and tear on his body since he barely played his first 4 years. Woodley, on the other hand, has earned his reputation as injury prone and there will be concerns about his ability to stay on the field. In addition, he is not known as a locker room leader the way Harrison is.

  • Ben Anderson

    Not sure if per game roster bonuses count as NLTBE. You may want to confirm.

    I like the idea of having Worilds on the left and giving the ROLB spot to Woodley at a reduced rate. It preserves depth at a position that needs it and regardless of whether he ends up as the starter to begin the year, Jones will likely see significant playing time, thus continuing his development. The last time the guys behind Woodley didn’t see significant PT was 2010.

  • steeltown

    Well yes and no, Harrison had back surgery in 2011 and knee surgery in 2012..

  • sean mcmartin

    Given Woodley’s history. It is doubtful he will be healthy for the entire season.. Finding a FA is now more critical than ever. if they want to upgrade the OLB situation.

  • SteelersDepot

    you should probably read the attached espn post. it is a tip. they are tied to % of snaps played. HTH.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I think there still needs to be a pay cut structured in to any negotiation with Woodley, therefore he is going to be waived. Giving him the opportunity to make back that money could put you over $25M/ in 2014 for 3 linebackers, none of whom are even pro bowlers. The Steelers need to identify talent that is less expensive and they need Woodley and a few others off the books to finance it.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Steelers FO baked this cake and now they’re gonna have to eat it or throw it out. This article should started with a disclaimer saying
    “Warning: Reading the following may induce dizziness, nausea, sudden speech and motor skill impairment, temporary memory loss and in severe cases vomiting and diarrhea.” – I kid….but I’m seriously considering the pre June 1st cut scenario. I say take the lumps now with Woodley’s cap hit this year and come next year the FO office should have more $$ to extend players at that time, sign FA’s or drop it from a helicopter at the 50 yard line in Heinz Field.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Hasn’t Lamarr ever heard of deer antler spray?

  • Ben Anderson

    Thanks will do.

  • cp72

    If we can get Worilds signed before free agency and lessen the cap hit I think we are better of eating the money this year and getting him completely of the book. If I am not mistake it’s going to be some like a 550 k hit. I don’t want 8 million of dead money hanging over our heads next year.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    There seems to be room for something. If he plays all year he is worth the full salary so going the NLTBE route gives us a guarantee of sorts while also allowing him to earn all of it.

    Going with a straight cut in pay to 4 mil plus incentives would be about what he would get as a late season free agent so that should work too.

    The cap hit with a restructure doesn’t matter. We can’t color his value with old bonus prorations.

  • cp72

    Dave whats a ball park first year cap hit on a long term Worilds deal?

  • SteelersDepot
  • SteelersDepot

    Short answer would likely be anywhere between $3-$5 Million first year charge

  • Toddy Bravo

    I’m supremely confident that Worilds would beat out a healthy Woodley for the starting spot. I think 93 showed more explosion in the second half of last season that 56 ever has, even when he was among the league leaders in sacks. Even at $4 million (assuming no incentives), that’s still an expensive 2nd stringer. I think we cut him post June 1 and get some depth late in the draft and/or UDFAs. I also think we lock up Worilds with a 5-6 year deal very soon, further lowering the cap hit.

    On a side note, I’ll also add that I sincerely hope we sign some of our other FAs, specifically Al Woods and Cotchery. We also need to resign either Felix Jones or Dwyer and get another RB in the draft, considering we have nobody behind Bell.

  • http://batman-news.com blair thompson

    So, no chance we try and deal Woodley/trade, or part of draft day deal with another team, releasing seems like we wouldn’t get anything for a descent player.? Thoughts?

  • Jacob Dixon

    He went to the bengals

  • steeltown

    His base salaries for the next 3yrs are pretty steep for an injury prone player.. his new Team would have to take on his remaining yrs

  • cp72

    Thanks Dave.

    So it’s fairly realistic to say we can get to 10-15 million under the cap after signing Worilds. That’s encouraging. That makes it easier to take the 580k hit from Woodley and still be able to make some moves in free agency.

  • walter mason

    I used to love the way Woodley slammed QBs to the turf without getting flagged. But those days are history and we cant live in the past.
    I wonder what Woodley is feeling with his head on the chopping block? Is he still laying back and laughing? Im sure some other team will sign him so I doubt he is too worried. Whatever happens, he has no one to blame but himself. Good luck in the future Woodley.. Steeler fans (and some teammates) just wanted you to try harder and its not too late to agree to a pay cut..

  • steeltown

    Definitely want Cotchery, Woods, Dwyer and Will Allen back on this Team. Should be able to retain them on modest deals.

  • treeher

    Of course! :)

  • Callentown

    I think it’s the longest of long-shots, but I saw in a recent popular mock Kalil Mack dropping to #15. Can’t see it. Won’t happen.

    But if it did, it feels like the Woodley situation would be easier to swallow while cutting him pre-June 1.

  • Rob

    If there’s a legitimate chance we are going to keep woodley in 2014, and the rest of the league knows it, why not just try to trade him for some draft compensation? I bet Arizona would be interested, as well as the jets..

  • Jeff

    “I think 93 showed more explosion in the second half of last season than 56 ever has”…… I have to disagree with you here. Woodley was a BEAST his first few years in the league.

  • walter mason

    A team would have to honor his large contract in a trade. Other teams may be interested but only after he is cut. But not in a trade.

  • Matt Manzo

    So a pay cut would just be for this year? Why couldn’t we chop some off of 2015, 16 too?

  • 243546

    I don’t think the Steelers have to ask Woodley to take a pay cut. There’s no reason Woodley and Worilds can’t be the starting OLB’s in 2014. The problem with asking a player to take a pay cut, is that it puts the team in a situation where they have to cut the player if he says “No”.

  • Ben Anderson

    Delmas was incentivized based upon a 42% of snaps threshold. So, his bonus must have been paid in a lump sum at the end of the year rather than on a game by game basis. They referred to it as a per game roster bonus, but strictly speaking, it isn’t what would typically be described as one; as it isn’t paid out in game checks based upon being active the previous week.
    Anyway, I like the idea of keeping Woodley at a reduced rate. But, just like you, I don’t see him taking that deal; even if he has missed significant time over the past two and a half seasons and has been highly compensated over that period.

  • ApexSteel

    We don’t have the money to pay both of them.

  • PA2AK

    yeah tough to debate the two injury histories. Harrison’s were pretty significant surgeries given his position. Woodley’s are all soft tissue injuries that usually increase probability of recurring as time goes on. One thing is for sure…both the Steelers and Woodley know that he isn’t getting $8mil this year regardless of where he plays.

  • PA2AK

    Did you know that Worilds WILL be a Steeler for 2014? That means that it is actually less critical now to find a FA OLB…I could agree if you mean for depth, but to me that doesn’t mean ‘critical’.

  • PA2AK

    true…that man knows how to play for a contract.

  • PA2AK

    The Cleveland Bungles…sheesh

  • SteelersDepot

    You must have skipped right down to the comments without reading the post as I highlighted the 42% threshold above. Also, what part of “I’m not entirely sure how that is written up contractually” did not make sense?

  • Ben Anderson

    No, I saw both. I wasn’t disagreeing with you. I was putting it out there for conversation.

  • sean mcmartin

    First off ,Worilds is not guaranteed to be a Steeler this season, If a team overpays and Steelers don’t match he is gone.I would say it is Critical need. The 3-4 defense relies on pressure up front. Woodley is good for half a season as evidenced by his history. Worilds is somehow now being crowned a pro-bowler after playing well, after one half of a season of a contract year. And The steelers have not found a MLB to take over for foote. He was slow on pass coverage before he got hurt last season. Spence is still a rookie and who knows if he can last one season without getting hurt. He’s not a big LB. Jarvis Jones was weak for a rookie. besides Timmons, I would say it’s a weak line-up. Although the critical need could also be at CB. They no longer have a guy who can play man to man and be a #1 CB. Ike’s days of covering the best WR are over.Cortez Allen cane back weak from his injury and there you have it.
    Crtical needs are on Defense, Unless you enjoy watching Brady carve up the defense for 52 points acceptable Steelers Football. I sure don’t. When they beat the patriots they had lewis and allen playing press coverage and shadowing the TE’s..

  • James Kling

    At one point Woodley looked like he belonged in the pantheon of Steelers greats, on pace to push the sack totals. Can he recapture that? I almost think the FO might split the difference and give him a year, and cut him in 2015 if he falls flat.

  • sean mcmartin

    or the cream and the clear..LOL

  • sean mcmartin

    They should at least run it by Arians. he might bite

  • Jason White

    He signed his tag and will no longer receive offers. He is here for 2014.

  • sean mcmartin

    Ok Got me there. Worilds is a Steeler for next year. I

  • Rob

    Couldn’t another team just renegotiate his contract when they get him? I admittedly don’t know much about the inner workings of the front office, but it seems like thee has to be a way to get something.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Woodley is not worth $8M/year. You can’t build a complete team when you are dramatically overpaying players at the top of the payroll.

  • SFIC

    I think the chain I events will be as follows:
    1- they immediately try to restructure his contract.
    2- if that fails, the steelers look at a more affordable FA replacement resulting in a post June 1 Woodley release.
    3- if that fails, the steelers look for an early value draft pick in May and release Woodley post June1.
    4- if that comes up empty they stick with Woodley in 2014.

  • 243546

    How do you figure? Even if the team cuts Woodley, there isn’t any cap savings until June 1st. The Steelers have to be cap compliant before that.

  • 243546

    He is when you’re a team with zero depth at the OLB position.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    If you keep Worilds and Woodley to start next year, one of them will be starting on the wrong side.

    This team has no depth anywhere due to a few inflated salaries. Although I’m not sold on J. Jones, at least you have 1 for OLB for each side. Right now, this team only has 1 safety, 1 CB and 1 legit starting WR. Woodley’s $8M has to be spread across those positions.

  • tim

    NOT to mention you never had to worry about James Harrison coming in out of shape, ever!

  • ApexSteel

    If we’re as active as Colbert says we’ll be, we’re going to need that money some of that money to sign draft picks.

  • walter mason

    I think u mean pay cut. No more restructuring with woodley.

  • westcoasteeler

    LoL. Their motto: ‘Orange you glad you play us!’

  • PA2AK

    it still is a good point that they have been forced into essentially one good move….have him take a pay cut, or release him. If he takes a cut and gets down to $4mil/year and they work a long term deal out with Worilds to something much lower than the $9.75mil…its much better than outright letting him go. That’s a big IF, but if he doesn’t, you have to cut him. Besides, IF he’s in shape and healthy, I’d rather see Woodley on the right side than JJ…unless JJ goes through some sort of transformation.

  • alex

    huge key players who have all come off the bench to help us, playing in some really thin positions for us right now…

  • alex

    my question is, how prevelant is this type of clause in the NFL in relation to older or injury recovering players?

  • 243546

    I don’t see why anyone would be on the wrong side. Personally, I would play Woodley at ROLB, and eliminate some of the pounding he has to take defending the run. I have no reason to believe he can’t play on the right.

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