Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

If Jason Worilds Troubles RTs, Steelers Need to Keep Him at LOLB


 

Jason Worilds has done a fantastic job as of late manning the left outside linebacker position. Since he took over for an injured LaMarr Woodley in Week 11, Worilds has racked up 30 tackles, 8.0 sacks and one forced fumble. The fourth-year outside linebacker has looked so comfortable in Woodley’s old spot that his head coach has been one person who has noticed what a defensive weapon he can be from that position.

In fact, Mike Tomlin had the following to say about Jason Worilds in his most recent press conference according to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com:

 

I think he [Worilds] is emerging and developing like all players should, [...] He is healthier than he has been in recent years. He is becoming a veteran player. The snap experience he has experienced over the last several years playing for LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, he is benefiting from that. He is a different athletic matchup for right tackles and that is an element of it as well. It is more of a level playing field with the athleticism of some of the left tackles matching his skill set. He is probably more troublesome for some of the animals that play right tackle in our game today.

 

I know I hate to be a ‘Negative Nancy’ and ‘that guy,’ but I do have some follow-up questions for Tomlin regarding his team’s best outside linebacker:

 

  • If Worilds matches up so well against right tackles, then is LaMarr Woodley to remain the starter at left outside linebacker next fall if the former Virginia Tech Hokie returns?

 

  • Moreover, why is Woodley the second-highest paid player on the team if he is not even the best player at his position?

 

  • Does the soon-to-be 30-year old deserve his old spot back after this season?

 

  • Has Worilds played well enough to be inked to a new deal after this season ends?

 

  • Would the cap-strapped front office even consider re-signing the soon-to-be UFA?

 

I for one believe that re-signing Worilds should be Pittsburgh’s top priority once the regular season ends. Pittsburgh’s 2sack leader (8.0) this fall, Worilds has finally blossomed into the type of player that Mike Tomlin and the scouts thought he could be when they selected him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Fully healthy as well, Pittsburgh has received tremendous production from Worilds at the left outside linebacker position. Armed with a solid combination of size and speed, the former second round pick has done a fantastic job since he transitioned to the position where he was Woodley’s backup during the 2010-2012 campaigns

As far as the depth on their roster is concerned, Pittsburgh might be forced to sign Worilds regardless of his potential price tag. With Woodley on the decline, Jarvis Jones still transitioning to the professional level and Chris Carter as the only other backup on the team’s roster, the Steelers’ brass would be wise to keep Worilds as their starting left outside linebacker on the roster for more than just the final three games of the current regular season.

Consider the following, readers. If Worilds is giving right tackles fits, then why should he surrender the starting job at left outside linebacker? I understand that the Steelers are cap-strapped in terms of payroll. Yet shouldn’t Woodley be in danger of being let go or moved to the right side instead?

I know, I know, releasing Woodley would create a large amount of dead money for the Steelers to deal with in future seasons. If Woodley is released prior to June 1, 2014, the franchise will saddled Pittsburgh with $14,170,000 worth of dead money according to Spotrac.com.

Although the franchise could release him after June 1st, 2014 and defer $8.6 million of the dead money until 2015 according to Dale Lolley of the Washington Observer-Reporter, the Steelers must still be cap compliant by that point. In addition, they will be forced to carry Woodley on their roster until the end of May and will likely need to sign Worilds before then to keep him from going elsewhere.

 

Final Thoughts

Pittsburgh’s front office is in a bit of pickle when it comes to their sticky financial situations with Worilds in Woodley. Will they keep the emerging youngster? Or will they keep the declining veteran who is an albatross weighing down the team on the field and when it comes to their payroll?

Unless Worilds wants to stay with the Steelers at any cost, I have a hard time believing that he would take less money to remain with the sinking ship of a franchise if he is not guaranteed a starting job. Moreover, I cannot see a situation in which Pittsburgh’s brass shoulder as much dead money as they would by cutting Woodley.

As I have illustrated above, nothing would make he happier than to see the team keep Worilds and dump the declining veteran. Sadly, it looks like Worilds will be the 2014 version of Keenan Lewis.

 

 

 

 

Stats & Contract Info. Provided By: ESPN.comSteelers.com , Spotrac, and Pro Football Reference

 

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Tags: Chris Carter Jarvis Jones Jason Worilds Lamarr Woodley Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Jimmy Stuart

    Dom,
    The upside is he is producing. :) Do you think lebeau will retire after this year? And if he does do you think we move to the 4-3 ( because we don’t have the stud NT to run the 3-4 effectively) plus Tomlin had success with it in Tampa and with the Vikings.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Yeah, Worilds is producing but it is in a meaningless season for the Steelers. Worst of all, they’re probably too cap-strapped to ink him to a new deal.

      As far as switching to a 3-4 is concerned, if they hire Butler (or even Ray Horton) to replace LeBeau I can’t see it happening. Tampa-2 scheme is getting carved in Dallas, so I’m not sure that’s the 4-3 scheme you’d want this porous defense to employ either.

  • Redd Mahoney

    What about the idea of moving Woodley (at a reduced price of course) over to inside linebacker? This way they could keep both Worilds and Jones on the field and since Woodley is slowing down anyway, they could place his 265 pounds inside to help against the run. The one caveat of course would be his pass coverage.

    • Dom DiTolla

      They’re not moving a defensive end/outside linebacker tweener to the inside. He lacks the foot speed and necessary quickness to deal with running backs. If you thought Larry Foote was ineffective, offenses would feast even on Woodley at ILB.

      I’d tinker with the idea of moving Jones inside of those three. He wouldn’t really have to gain or lose anymore weight, and he could be a real threat on A-Gap blitzes. I think they’re better off rolling the dice with Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, a hopefully healthy Sean Spence or another draft choice at ILB next to Timmons. But that’s just my two cents.