The way I see it, the Pittsburgh Steelers are caught between a rock and a hard place. The dilemma facing them saw the stakes grow higher yesterday when Jason Worilds said he was open to re-signing with the Steelers yet he wants assurances of a starting position.
Worilds won’t command a monster salary per se, but he has been rated as high as the second-best available outside linebacker on the free agent market. I believe he’d really like to stay in Pittsburgh but I have serious concerns and I really believe Kevin Colbert, Mike Tomlin and company do as well.
Worilds wants to start and he has every right to demand that. He was the team’s best outside linebacker in 2013 and it wasn’t really that close.
LaMarr Woodley once again underwhelmed and spent part of the year on the sidelines with injuries. Rookie Jarvis Jones showed flashes but by and large did not live up to the hype a first round draft pick should have.
Jones will start at outside linebacker in 2014 because you don’t make the rare move of starting a rookie then sit him in year two.
Woodley’s situation is another one the Steelers have to be careful with as well. He has not lived up to his contract and has been injured a good part of the time. The Steelers can cut him and take a monster cap hit or wait and cut him after June 1st and spread that hit over two years.
Should the Steelers cut Woodley, then it’s a no-brainer that Worilds would have the starting position he desires. If, and here’s a big “if,” the Steelers can come to terms with him.
My concerns don’t stop with Woodley or Jones though. You’ll recall that Worilds has dealt with injuries throughout his career and this past season he missed a game with one as well.
I’m also concerned about motivation with Worilds. Knowing he was entering a contract year, it was obvious that Worilds picked up his pace decidedly in 2013. Will that same motivation be there if he is ‘guaranteed’ a starting spot and has a juicy new contract?
We have a very recent precedent similar to this and his name is LaMarr Woodley.
Many fans will say that signing Worilds is an absolute must and I understand that, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t serious risks involved either. The last thing this organization needs is a repeat of LaMarr Woodley.
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.