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

  • DoctorNoah

    I think this is realistic. And will get us I to the same dead money problem of he ends up being a flash in the pan or underperforming or getting injured. Question now is what happens to Woodley?

  • cp72

    Was hoping for a smaller first year cap hit.

  • James Kling

    I think this looks reasonable, but capology is not my forte. I think this would be equitable to both parties, and leaving the bigger salary years to the final 3 of the contract leaves an escape, if needed.

  • steeltown

    You may be right Bryan.. I would assume it will be alittle more than what Kruger received, so $45MIL sounds about right.

  • steeltown

    As long as they don’t restructure him 2-3yrs in a row.. that’s where the problems arise. If they want/need to restructure next offseason fine, but don’t do it again in 2016..

  • Tullydew

    Most people look at the total value and years of a contract. In the NFL the only number that is important is the guaranteed money in a contract.

  • treeher

    I’m not a numbers guy, so I have this question. If Woodley’s contract became such a problem due to his injuries/non performance, why would we structure another contract exactly like his when the same thing might happen?

  • steeltown

    It became a problem because they restructured his contract 2yrs in a row during a span in which he was missing significant time. I bet they regret messing with his contract before last season.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    If you’re going to compare Worilds to Woodley, why not just compare him to Demarcus Ware? Or Terrell Suggs? Worilds is not anywhere near that caliber IMO.

    At similar points in their career (coming up on the end of their rookie contracts) Worilds is far below where Woodley was (as far as history of production and durability). Worilds has rarely shown he can stay on the field, let alone “dominate” at rushing the passer. It is not an accurate comparison IMO.

    Let’s not confuse what the “market will pay” someone with their “value”. The market paid Mike Wallace 5yr $60 million with $30 million guaranteed. (Minnesota offered even more.) That is not his “value”. That was a “miscalculation”. The Dolphins will even tell you so now.


    What is the value of a Coca-Cola? $1.00? 50 cents? Just because there’s some guy dying in the desert from dehydration and is willing to pay $10.00 for a Coke doesn’t make its value $10.00. That would be a mistake.

    I will go on record saying its a huge mistake to give Worilds a 5 yr / $45 million contract. With his history of injury, we will be right back where we currently are with Woodley. Looking to cut a guy with huge cap ramifications.

  • steeltown

    It’s not entirely fair to compare them, you said it, Woodley was named the starter in ’08 his sophomore yr after Haggans departed for ARI, whereas Worilds sat behind Harrison and Woodley for 3yrs. Worilds was dominate last season when finally given the starting job, he had more tackles in that span than Woodley has ever accumulated in an entire season and he led the League in QB hits the 2nd half of the season

    Its risk/reward.. injury is always a concern at any position, but the market sets the value.. every year players are getting paid more.. if Worilds continues to play like he did last season, it’s worth the risk

  • Tullydew

    As the man drinks his $10 coke, you would say he made a mistake and die an hour later. Who is the smart one?

  • srdan

    Restructuring is ok if he performs. Just like Timmons this year.

  • alex

    with the cap at 133 now, that 45 looks good, and he has more upside than Kruger…

    and if Woodley comes back a little more lean and mean with a chip on his shoulder after a long offseason of questions/talk directed at him, then lookout AFC Norte!

  • steeltown

    Funny, we said the same thing last offseason about Woodley

  • dkoy85

    They really just have to assume hes going to be healthy.

  • Alan Felicia

    Here we go again, making excuses for Worilds. He did not sit behind Woodley and Harrison as he was given opportunities to start when both were injured in 2011 & 2012. In fact in 2011, Worilds started in place of Woodley the final 8 weeks of the season. He totaled 3 sacks with his best game against a lowly Cleveland Browns in which Worilds recorded 2 sacks. In 2012, Worilds started 3 games in place of Woodley yet he only played well against Tenn. The other 2 games against Baltimore and SD, he played poorly!

  • steeltown

    Im not making excuses, just laying out the facts, thinking about the situation logically

  • srdan

    I think it is unfair to compare woodley to suggs(mvp) and Ware (led the league in sacks twice and is constantly top 5). The comparison between worldis and woodley is much closer than the comparison between those two and woodley. And I would argue that his last 8 games were more explosive than anything woodley ever did. Keep in mind that woodley had the benefit to feed of 55 and 92 on the other side.

    93 has played 57/64 games. Close to 90%. Please do not question his durability.

    Also, they have taken two different paths in their careers. Woodley came in behind an aging clark haggans, and Worldis came into a line up with two probowlers (highly paid) ahead of him. When he really got his chance, he shined.

  • dkoy85

    Sometimes it just takes a little longer for the mental and physical part of the game come together for a young guy. You mentioned one of the in your comment- Harrison.

  • dkoy85

    Where the hell are you getting Cokes? Must be the vet minimum Cokes.

  • srdan

    It’s funny how we were so down on our 5 previous draft last year. Then came last years class followed by 2 players having a coming out year in a big way!

    It’s still early, but if pouncey can get it right, and 93 lives up to the abovementioned contract, we could be talking about the 2010 draft as one of the top five drafts in franchise history. I know: if…if ….if I am just saying that my paradigm has changed.

    And that was followed up by another good draft if Munchak can help Adams. …if..again.

  • srdan

    tired of it

  • Nolrog

    Wow. 9 million a year (on average). That’s a big contract.

  • Nolrog

    They should get out of the restructuring business though, and start moving older guys out. That’s why we got into cap problems in the first place.

  • srdan

    for example, to sign worldis this year you have to restructure timmons and brown. Do you think it is a bad idea?

  • steeltown

    Im hoping they get something done for less

  • Alan Felicia

    Well, you need to adjust your facts. Worilds was never good enough to play over Harrison and Woodley and hardley played well when given th e opportunity. Thus the reason he played Behind Harrison and Woodley.

  • Alan Felicia

    Or maybe an Agent sitting Worilds down and motivating the player to play well enough to earn a Big Contract!

  • Greg Nixon

    Jason Worilds is a young ascending player. Steelers like to keep their young ascending players (unfortunately they couldn’t keep Keenan Lewis). The light bulb came on for Worilds last year, and he looked great at LOLB. There is always a risk of injury, but you have to sign most of your good young players to a 2nd Contract.
    All we can do is hope this is not another Woodley situation. Unless Woodley can play Buck ILB, or takes a pay cut (unlikely) he will be released, IMO.

  • 243546

    Dave, I think you’re in the ball park of what Worilds contract will probably be worth. Something else to add to your analysis, if Worilds didn’t have confidence that the Steelers would at least give him a contract in the neighborhood of what Kruger received from the Browns, do you think he would have been so quick to sign his transition tag offer, and take himself off the FA market?

    The guaranteed second year salary seems to be something that is gaining popularity. Most of the bigger contracts given out last year had a year 2 guarantee. Personally, I like it, because it makes it easier to keep the year 1 cap number low, because the proration of the signing bonus isn’t as large as it would be if the guarantees came primarily in the form of a signing bonus.

  • steeltown

    Well yea, Woodley in his prime and James ‘Silverback’ Harrison..that’s understandable. But, I think for the most part Worilds played well when given the ooportunity, especially in Divisional games. He struggled against the run early in his career, but he seems to have turned the corner with that

  • shawn

    for goodness sakes yes !

  • bradblackandgold

    I’d rather see a contract of no more than 35 million. Signing bonus of 10 million (so 2 million each year), roster bonuses the first two years of 2 million each. base salaries of 1,3,4,6,7

    but if that isn’t enough, then I guess I could go for 40,000,000
    Keep your bonuses the same, but make the base salaries 1, 3, 5, 6, 7

  • westcoasteeler

    I don’t understand what people want the Steelers to do. Remember Keenan Lewis? It takes so long for guys to ‘get’ our system that when the time comes to pay them, they’ve just touched the tip of their potential. How many players have cut their teeth in our system only to go produce for someone else?

  • Alan Felicia

    Listen, Keenan Lewis is average at best. This year, he greatly benefited playing in NO who happens to be in the top 4 in sacks and QB pressure. Lewis may have better hands than Ike (thats saying much) but I don’t think Lewis is better than either Ike or Cortez. If Lewis stayed with Pittsburgh, he would put up the same number as Allen or Gay b/c Pittsburgh was in the bottom 8 in sacks (35).
    In this upcoming draft, I think Pittsburgh will have an opportunity to draft better Corners.

  • AndyR34

    So you are saying it is a mistake to sign Worilds? Otherwise where is the money coming from?

  • Alan Felicia

    Bottom line, Worilds needs to Walk the Walk! God forbid Worilds play below standard, this board will tear him apart much like Woodley. I hope Worilds does prove me wrong and get this defense back to being the suffocating squad they were 4-5 years ago.

  • shawn

    This is CRAZY talk … not prudent … bad football business … i hope these numbers end up being wrong … what are we now bidding against ourselves ??? If these numbers are anywhere close we should of let him test the market … this is prob on the high side of what he would have been offered elsewhere

  • AndyR34

    There you go again…bringing facts into the conversation! 🙂

  • shawn

    I’m agreeing with Nolrog about wanting to limit the restructuring of our older players …

  • steeltown

    With the cap rising significantly and the scarcity of 3-4OLB on the market he would easily have gotten $9MIL per from someone, the question is can we lock him up for a little less than that

  • ilamarca

    They could wait until June, cut Woodley, and frontload Worilds deal year 1. Pay him 13-14m this season fully guarenteed then drop the cap number starting year 2.

  • CW

    The Steelers had to get into the restructuring business because they were one of the only teams in the league that actually paid close to salary cap under the old CBA. When the new CBA cut the salary cap almost ten million dollars the Steelers either had to start jettisoning talent or restructure until the cap started going up.

    This year’s $133 million is the closest the current CBA has been to where the cap was in 2009 under the old CBA.

  • westcoasteeler

    You are correct. We need our defense to pressure the QB. Then a decent CB will look that much better. My point is about cultivating our own guys knowing it takes time and we may need to pay them before they break out statistically.

  • Douglas Andrews

    9 million a year while it is a high number it’s the market value this year for a 3-4 OLB. J Worilds picked a great time for his career to shine and now he’s gonna be paid. With the Woodley contract working out the way it did I can see everyone being alittle apprehensive about J Worilds getting that kind of money but trust me I believe another team would happily overpay for Worilds. If the Steelers can lock him up for that number then so be it.
    When we lost K Lewis last year everyone was in an uproar because we supposedly let him walk and held on to an aging Ike. To that I have been saying that K Lewis wasn’t gonna sign with the Steelers he wanted to play for his hometown and he got a nice contract to do so. I’m sure the Steelers offered him a contract even though Lewis said they didn’t I believe he wanted to play with the Saints. So here we are a year later in the same position to lock up young talent and people still say let him walk and don’t pay him it’s ridiculous.

  • Virdin Barzey

    I think this 45mil is just about right as well. Would have like to see it more around an 8-8.5 max a year average. Woodley clearly did more before he got his big contract. Looking at it now, they better don’t make the same mistake. I really don’t like the 10.2 in the later years but if he’s producing on a high level, then no complaints.

  • Alan Felicia

    The last 8 games were more explosive than anything Woodley ever did? Are you serious? In what planet? Let’s compare:
    Worilds last eight games in 2013:
    Week 10 vs Buff – 2 total tackles, 0 sacks
    Week 11 vs Det – 8 total tackles, 1 sack
    Week 12 vs Cle – 5 total tackles, 0 sacks
    Week 13 vs Bal – 10 total tackles, 2 sacks
    Week 14 vs Mia – 8 total tackles, 1 sack
    Week 15 vs Cinn- 3 total tackles, 0 sacks
    Week 16 vs GB – 3 total tackles, 1 sack
    Week 17 vs Cle – Did Not Play
    Lemar Woodley 2011- first 8 games (before hurting hamstring against Patriots Halloween game). Bear in mind, he played without Aaron Smith, James Harrison, and Jason Worilds because of injuries from Week 4 through Week 8:
    Week 1 vs Bal – 3 total tackles, 1 sack
    Week 2 vs Sea – 3 total tackles, 1/2 sack
    Week 3 vs Ind – 3 total tackles, 0 sack
    Week 4 vs Hou – 5 total tackles, 0 sack
    Week 5 vs Tenn – 3 total tackles, 1-1/2 sacks, INT
    Week 6 vs Jac – 8 total tackles, 2 sacks
    Week 7 vs Arz – 7 total tackles, 2 sacks
    Week 8 vs NE – 2 total tackles, 2 sacks
    Let me repeat, playing without Aaron Smith and James Harrison (and Chris Carter as the other OLB) between Week 4 thru Week 8, Woodley recorded 7 1/2 sacks.
    Also in Woodley’s final 8 games 2009, he recorded 11.5 SACKS!

  • Alan Felicia

    Woodley’s final 8 games in 2009, he recorded 11.5 SACKS!

  • steeltown

    Something interesting and crazy.. after a few recent restructures, Larry Fitzgeralds 2015 cap will be over $23MIL… wow

  • Buccos9

    Unless you are Antonio Brown.

  • Steve

    Steelers are paying 10 mil for a backup, makes a lot of sense.

  • steeltown

    Perfect example of getting a player with potential locked up early before their rookie contract expires

  • steeltown

    Your numbers are little off.. Worilds didn’t play in the final game so add the previous, week 9, that would add 5tackles and 2sacks which would bring his sack total to 7sacks in 8 games.. just saying

  • Bill Molinaro

    These are big numbers for a player who’s had one above average year and has been injury prone. Part of the remedy for the cap problems is to get young players to contribute at a high level earlier in their career. Dick LeBeau has not been good at this; he needs to adjust his methods to make that a reality.

  • SumnerYoung

    It’s difficult to move guys out when there is no depth anywhere on the roster. Hopefully, that gets fixed in the next 1-2 years, and starts this year with a couple solid FA signings and a stellar draft class.

  • gevins

    I would not extend him for 5 years at 9 million a year. I am no cap whiz but what is to gain then by signing him for that much when they can just let him play under the transition tag for 9.7 million and prove that the last 10 games was not a fluke. I believe that if the Steelers sign him for 45 million I will guarantee he will not play out the contract. I was thinking more like 5 years 35 million would be more fair. I guess you can structure the contract where the guaranteed money is about the same but the dead money on this contract will be huge when they have to cut ties in 3 years. Just my observation. Maybe I am way off.

  • steeltown

    Exactly.. let Worilds walk and keep paying the oft injured Woodley an astronomical amount, that’s the definition of madness

  • Alan Felicia

    OK, Worilds totaled 7 sacks in his final 8 games in 2013. We’ll pad Worild’s number.
    Yet, it doesn’t come close to Woodley’s first 8 games in 2011 (9 total sacks) nor his final 8 games in 2009 (11.5 sacks).

  • srdan

    How can the lions afford that with staffords contract? No wonder they suck.

  • srdan

    Well, I eat my words.

  • steeltown

    I have no idea.. Staffords ’16 and ’17 cap hits are $22MIL and now they are in talks with extending Ndamukong Suh

  • Rob

    Woirlds hasn’t done anything to merit that much money. The steelers are playing Russian roulette if this is how it goes down. I say we keep him this year and trade up and get Mack. Next year send him and woodley packing and have 2 cheap starting outside backers and some cap room to play with to add impact players

  • Richard Edlin

    So you’re saying that restructuring *might* be okay … so that it’s risky. Sounds like what steeltown said.

  • Richard Edlin

    … you also have to assume that he remains able to perform at the same level year on year. That’s always risky and gets riskier the older a player is. A pattern of multiple restructures in multiple positions was always going to lead to dead money & more cap trouble.

    We’re lucky that the cap rose this year and need to be more careful going forwards.


    Sounds good, but what are you willing to give up?

    It is risky, but I say they can sign Worilds long term for less…I don’t care what other players got, not every circumstance is the same

  • Rob

    Well, assuming Mack falls out of the top five, it shouldn’t be that bad. We could trade with Tampa, Minnesota, or buffalo.. I just think if there were ever a player born to play in our 3-4, it’s him… If woirlds is reasonable, I doubt it will happen though. I wouldn’t give him more than 6 million a year and that’s mostly out if desperation. In four years, he’s had a half season of production. That has to concern the steelers some.


    I don’t think he’ll get past ATL at 6…but lets say he did, what are you willing to give up? My point here is you’re willing to take the risk (Mack hasn’t played down one in the NFL) there, but leery of taking the risk with Worilds.

    Mack would be cheaper but if moving up meant 1st and 4th (we can’t trade the 3rd rd comp pick, if we get a 3rd rounder). He gets a lot more expensive also.

    I’m with you on the small sample. Here’s the choices…

    1. let him play out the transition tag, if he has another good year, forget signing him long term almost at any price. He’ll leave for a dollar more out of spite likely.

    2. same theme, but he struggles and you let him walk and draft someone else or re-sign him for a lower amount.

    3. try to work out long term deal that works for both parties.

    Every side you turn to there is risk with Worilds, but that’s the NFL today…you have 4 years on the cheap…after that you have to pay or start over.

  • Rob

    It would likely cost more than a 1st ahd fourth to get him. In all reality, probably a first and second. It’s a shake we have so many holes on our defense. The more I think about it, the more I realize that we won’t be able to fix things through the draft in enough time to give Ben a chance while he’s still young. We have to become more active in free agency if we want to compete and we can’t do that if we give outlandish money to players who haven’t earned it, like woirlds. Let’s not forget, he couldn’t displace woodley, woodley got injured. All I’m saying is letting Keenan Lewis walk looks much worse if we overpay woirlds. Drafting a young replacement would give us money to compete on free agency.


    MIA jumped to 3 for for a 1st and 3rd LY making 1st & 4th reasonable I think, but still wouldn’t do it for a small school player with a lot of promise…we agree more than not here…I just don’t see a real good option.

    The more I think about it, If it were me, I’d let Worilds play this yr with his tag, draft Ebron and go for Shaq Barrett in the draft and groom him to take over in ’15.

  • shawn

    just last week dave put up numbers at 5/35 and now he’s thinking … 45mil … i dont think he would have gotten over 9mil in the open market .. i actually think it would have been somewhere between 8-9 mil but just the chance that we are going to offer him 9mil off the bat … i think that is crazy …

  • shawn

    lets analyse this a little more in depth … at the beginning of the season the coaching staff and FO didnt even think he was good enough to start ahead of a ROOKIE … now after a few decent games .. and i do mean decent not great games they think he is worth STAR $$$

    That tells me 2 things …

    1, They (coaches/FO) did a lousy job at judging his skills and potential and it has cost them dearly

    2. They botched his contract on both sides … A) they didnt extend him early when the opportunity arose (after 5 sack season with min playing time … and B) they are likely to now Vastly overpay for someone they still have no clue to how good he is … heck we dont even know if he is our future starting OLB or if he was just a one hit wonder … for their sake i hope it works out like it did for AB (But AB put up a much more promising season before his big pay day than Worilds)

  • Jeff

    No way it is a top 5 draft… probably doesn’t even make top 10. Go back and look at some of the other drafts

    #1: 1974
    #2: 1987
    #3: 1971
    #4: 1969
    #5: 1970 (only two major players but both HOF)
    #6: 1992
    #7: 1998
    #8: 2002
    #9: 2010… (might go here, but you could make a very reasonable argument for the 1993, 1994, 1995, drafts as well since these generally had a lot of quality players, however several players ended up cut or traded before their careers took off.)

  • CrazyTerry

    Sorry, this kind of lunacy is what is killing the Steelers cap situation. I am not saying Wordlis wont deliver. But it is a huge risk. I would rather get some proven LBs in free agency than a guy we are still not sure if he can play anything other than the weak side.

  • CrazyTerry

    Exactly, what do the steeelers get out of it by giving him essentially 90% of the guaranteed money he gets for one year on an annual basis for 5 years?

  • vinnie12

    You can also say that a given player that only spot starts can’t get in sync with the defense! Once said player has a clear starting role he can flourish in the system!

  • shawn

    Exactly … VERY good point … we could have done the same with keenan and Worilds … hopefully they learn the lesson and do it with Cam and Cortez … as they are the next two to be in the same situation

  • shawn

    I think SSS makes some very true and valid points

  • shawn

    with that kind of pay … nothing short of yearly double digit sacks and becoming a monstrous playmaker will save his hide with the fan base

  • shawn

    i think much along the same lines

  • planetsteelers

    Just because the Steelers slapped Worilds with the transition tag doesn’t mean they think he’s worth 9.7 mil / year like you claim. That’s fuzzy logic to put it politely.