Steelers Might Be Best Served To Treat Jason Worilds In 2014 Like They Did Max Starks In 2008

On Sunday at the annual NFL owner’s meetings in Orlando, FL, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin spoke about outside linebacker Jason Worilds and how he is best suited to play on the left side, and how he’s happy with the way he’s progressed since they drafted him. While Worilds did have a career year in 2013, you have to wonder if the team has seen enough of him to have confidence in giving him a long-term deal.

Once the Steelers placed the $9.754 million transition tag on Worilds, they were essentially telling that he is worth that amount per year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Virginia Tech product should fire his agent if a long-term deal this offseason doesn’t average out to $9 million more a season.

While Worilds did record eight sacks last season, his pass rush could still stand to improve some in addition to his ability to play the run. Let’s face it, he really only has one solid season underneath his belt heading into 2014.

Being as a long-term deal that averages $9 million a season would really only help clear $3-4 million in cap space this year, the Steelers might be wise to keep the carrot dangling out in front of the Virginia Tech product one more season before paying him big money.

The last time the Steelers used the transition tag was in 2008 when tackle Max Starks received it. Starks’ situation heading into 2008 was similar to that of Worilds this year as he only started four games in 2007 due to Marvel Smith being injured and that was after he lost the starting right tackle job to Willie Colon.

The Steelers kept Starks on the transition tag all of 2008 and he responded with his best season as a professional. The Steelers placed the franchise tag on him the following offseason and that ultimately led to a long-term deal being worked out later that summer.

The Steelers will be drafting another outside linebacker or two this coming May, so if they were keep Worilds on the transition tag this year, they can franchise him next year if he continues to progress. If he doesn’t, hopefully a young player they draft this year will be able to challenge for the starting job in 2015.

The Steelers didn’t do anything wrong when they franchised and ultimately worked out a long-term deal with LaMarr Woodley back in 2011 as he had proved himself over the course of his entire career. Where they did mess up with him, however, was when they restructured his contract in 2012 after the injury bug first bit him in 2011. They again restructured him last offseason and now their paying the price for it this year and next year in extra dead money as a result.

Thanks to his play last season, Worilds has earned the opportunity to prove that he can continue to hold down the starting left outside linebacker spot in 2014. He’s also earned $9.754 million for this season as a result of that. However, until he can do it multiple seasons the way his predecessor Woodley did, the Steelers might be best served to wait a year before giving him a long-term deal much like the Steelers did with Starks back in 2008.

  • dgh57

    To bad we’re not in the position to draft Khalil Mack as that would solve some of the problem. They just might wait a year to sign Worilds as I’m not 100% convinced he’s the real deal and they may not be either.

  • srdan

    I dont mind the idea. Although a long term deal could free up cap space this summer for an upgrade somewhere (MJD).

  • srdan

    If we were in a position to draft Mack, we would have a lot more problems

  • dgh57

    One thing about waiting a year is that it gives you two drafts to find a replacement for him in case things don’t work out as planned.

  • steeltown

    Yep, they should have never restructured Woodley two yrs in a row following injury plagued seasons, especially the one before the 2013 season, it was ill-advised, they should have figured out a different way to clear cap space.

  • steeltown

    I don’t have a problem with Worilds playing out this yr, essentially proving his worth

  • dgh57

    That’s one way to look at it if you’re going to have a pessimistic view of it. Besides that I only said it because I don’t like the position we are in with Worilds and am looking for a better solution at OLB as I don’t care to have a repeat of the Woodley situation.

  • steeltown

    As long as they don’t restructure Worilds, multiple times, after injury plagued seasons, the situation shouldn’t repeat itself even if god forbid he follows suit and doesn’t take care of himself in his late 20’s, we’d be able to get out from under it without huge cap ramifications

  • Addison

    I wrote this last night. Haha, my thoughts exactly!

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Luckily we ARE in position to draft Jeremiah Attachou (OLB) at 2.15, who is just a notch lower in talent. Very quick, very strong, very versatile.

    He’s flying under the radar a bit because he was hurt for the senior bowl and combine but he is right there with Dee Ford as far as pass rush ability IMO. His pro day is March 28 at Georgia Tech.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I really like the kid, Attachou. His frame and size indicates he just might have the size to play at ROLB. I most definitely will keep an eye on him!

  • Nolrog

    If he does take a deal that averages out to less than 9 million a year, it doesn’t mean his agent did a bad job. If he got a deal, say, 5 years, 35 million that would be 7 million a year, but maybe there is 18 million guaranteed in that money and that would be better than 1 year, ~9 million guaranteed (especially if he gets a career ending injury, which is always a possibility in football.)

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I really think people mischaracterize restructures far too often. This is simply an accounting move that doesn’t cost anything and simply allows a deferral of cap/salary accounting. Woodleys deal for example was bad from day one as opposed to after the restructures because he was only worth what they committed on a per year basis for maybe one year and he couldn’t be cut because of the prorations. Once you are stuck in a bad deal using a bad contract as a way to borrow against future cap room might simply be making lemonade. Its better to make a bad deal worse than to enter another bad deal.

    Worlds has to weigh the risk of injury or underperformance vs any new guaranteed money the steelers offer. Should he value another 10 mil guaranteed right now more or less than a 9 million annual rate? I don’t think the steelers should fear that he could be worth even more if they wait until next off season and since worlds should fear injury or “exposure” you clearly have a current market value below 9 mil per.

    Since the only value in a long term deal for worlds at this time is cap savings you are better off increasing dead money on another deal, even if that creates one really big dead money charge, instead of committing any new money.

  • Bob

    That’s why the FO doesn’t worry about getting an extension done until after the draft and into the summer. You just never know how the draft will play out. Would we pass on Barr? What about if Mack makes it out of the top 10 somehow?

  • Will Hammer

    Wait and see if Jason is the real deaL.. another yr wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing ..