Pittsburgh Steelers soon-to-be free agent linebacker Jason Worilds turned 26 on Monday and he could receive the gift of being the top-rated free agent on the market at his position by the end of the day.
According to Ed Werder of ESPN on Twitter, the Washington Redskins are trying hard to re-sign outside linebacker Brian Orakpo to multi-year deal by the end of the day and are prepared to use franchise tag on him if it’s not done by 4 p.m. EST. Orakpo is believed by many to be the top-rated 3-4 outside linebacker that could potential hit the market next Tuesday and if signed or franchised, Worilds would then assume the top spot with virtually no competition behind him.
The Steelers have probably been working hard at trying to re-sign Worilds, but the former second-round draft pick might be waiting until the legal tampering process begins this coming Saturday as that’s when teams can begin entering into contract negotiations with players who will become unrestricted free agents on March 11, the start of the new league year and the beginning of free agency.
By Tuesday, Worilds and his representation should have a very good idea as to what his market value is around the league.
The Steelers could use the franchise tag Monday on Worilds in order to nearly guarantee he remains in Pittsburgh for at least another season, but with that tag now expected to be $11.455 million based on a $133 million salary cap number for 2014, that’s very unlikely to happen. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said a few weeks ago that while they do have the tag to use at their discretion, it was doubtful they would use it this offseason.
During the recent 2014 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, it was reported that several teams had interest in Worilds, who registered eight sacks in 11 games started in 2013. As of right now, his market value figures to be $7 million a season on the low side and could be as high as $11 million to team needing a 3-4 outside linebacker. There has also been some rumblings that a few teams that run a 4-3 defense could have interest in the Virginia Tech product as a pass rushing defensive end as well.
One thing is for certain when it comes to Worilds on his 26th birthday and that is that he’s going to get paid this offseason. Who will be doing the paying, however, is the only thing that remains uncertain with the start of free agency now just over a week away.