Maybe that is a rhetorical question there in the headline, but I think it’s one worth asking isn’t it? Will Jason Worilds stay in Pittsburgh?
For many of you, it’s an easy answer but I suspect more and more that it may not be that simple when you consider a number of factors.
I’m not at all suggesting that Worilds doesn’t deserve a new contract because he was certainly this team’s best outside linebacker in 2013.
He started 11 games and collected a team high eight sacks and forced two fumbles.
I have concerns about him though and I don’t think I’m alone.
Prior to this year, Worilds had been troubled by injuries in his first three seasons. When he did play, he wasn’t anything special as he collected just five sacks in his first two years before equaling that total last season.
This past season was obviously his best one but he still missed the final game with an injury. That begs the question of how much can you afford to a pay a guy who has a history of injuries? Perhaps I’m gun-shy because of LaMarr Woodley.
Since signing his $60 million deal, Woodley has seen the field less than almost anyone in a black ‘n gold jersey and that has been due to injury and an inability to stay in proper football shape. Could the same fate befall Worilds once he gets a nice, new deal?
Deciding whether Worilds is worth re-signing might require some guesswork on our part. If we assume the Steelers cut Woodley, which may happen early in the offseason or after June 1st, then keeping Worilds almost becomes a must regardless of what he demands.
The problem there is that the Steelers aren’t exactly rolling in the dough for 2014. Can they even afford what he and his agent may demand in the first place?
We know that Jarvis Jones will anchor the right side and if Woodley is released then that leaves us with Chris Carter who is a nice player but not in the realm of Worilds or even an at 50% Woodley.
Don’t bother suggesting the team let Worilds walk because “they will draft another OLB and play him immediately.” What Dick LeBeau was forced to do with Jones last year was much more an exception for rookies than the rule. LeBeau just doesn’t like playing rookies.
Clearly in a scenario where Woodley is cut, Worilds holds all the cards, but should Woodley be kept on, then Worilds may no longer be needed. Why? Because he isn’t going to sign a new deal to be a back-up again. Worilds has proven he can play and will want to start and I totally understand that.
This will be an extremely interesting decision the Steelers will have to make in regards to both Worilds and Woodley. As fans, we should not be surprised by anything and for many reasons.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.