Why Jason Worilds Might Just Get A 5-Year, $45 Million Contract From The Steelers

Not long after the Pittsburgh Steelers placed the transition tag on linebacker Jason Worilds earlier this week, the former second-round draft pick accepted it and he’s now guaranteed to make $9.754 million in 2014 as a result. Both sides obviously want to get a long-term deal done at this point, but like it or not, Worilds seemingly has the upper hand and you have to wonder what the final deal might look like.

As soon as the Steelers gave Worilds that tag, they were essentially telling him that they think he is worth $9.754 million a season. Now, Worilds and his agent probably expect that per season amount to carry over into a new deal and why wouldn’t they?

Before we go any further, I want to take you back to 2011 when the Steelers placed the franchise tag on linebacker LaMarr Woodley. The price of that tag was $10.091 million and later on that summer, Woodley signed a six-year, $61.5 million contract. The average yearly breakdown of that contract was $10.25 million and it included $21.5 million guaranteed and a two-year take of $27 million.

Let me give you a more recent example of a tagged player. Just last year, the Denver Broncos placed the franchise tag on tackle Ryan Clady and that came with a $9.828 million price tag. Later last summer, Clady ultimately signed a five year, $52.5 million contract. That averages out to $10.5 million a season and the deal included $15 million guaranteed with a two-year take of $23 million.

You see where I’m going, here?

Is there any reason not to believe that Worilds and his agent are looking for at least a five-year, $45 million contract from the Steelers? If they’re not, Worilds needs a new agent. In fact, based on the two examples above, an average yearly value of $9 million a season is giving the Steelers a discount. Like I’ve already said, they’ve already told him he’s worth $9.754 million a season.

So, let’s assume that’s the minimum Worilds’ side will take look at the possible structure.

I would think the deal outlined above, which I believe would be structured much like Woodley’s was back in 2011, would include at least $18 million guaranteed. $11 million of that $18 million would possibly be the signing bonus with his 2014 base salary plus possible roster bonus being fully guaranteed and totaling out at $4 million. In addition, Worilds’ 2015 base salary of $3 million would also be guaranteed. There’s your $18 million.

Obviously they might want a little more in the second year to bring the two-year total up above the overall $9 million average, so a second-year, non guaranteed, roster bonus of $4 million would give him a two year take of $22 million.

The final three year base salaries of the deal need to total out at $23 million, so let’s say they are $7 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017 and $8 million in 2018.

Have I lost you?

The yearly cap charges for Worilds on the deal outlined above would be as follows: 2014 – $6.2 million, 2015 – $9.2 million, 2016 – $9.2 million, 2017 – $10.2 million, 2018 – $10.2 million.

A $6.2 million charge in 2014 would clear $3.554 cap space for the Steelers.

Several are probably going to remind that the Cleveland Browns only gave linebacker Paul Kruger a five-year, $40.5 million contract last year. That deal, however, included $20 million in guarantees as well as a two year take of $20 million. In fact, his three year take is $27 million.

Go ahead and get after me in the comments below, but don’t be surprised if Worilds’ new contract comes in close to what I posted above. Anything lower than that, in my opinion, means the Steelers really got a bargain and Worilds probably needs to punch somebody in the mouth afterwards.

Do I hear $50 million?

2011 Original LaMarr Woodley Contract
YearBase SalarySigning BonusRoster BonusCap Charge
$13,000,000.00 $9,500,000.00
2014 Possible Jason Worilds Contract
YearBase SalarySigning BonusRoster BonusCap Charge
$11,000,000.00 $7,000,000.00