I don’t know what they’re thinking, [...] I know what some people are thinking, I have no idea what Mike Tomlin is thinking. There may be a real big debate on LaMarr. I know Tomlin has always been in his corner.
Although Jason Worilds has had some injury issues during his four-year stint with the Steelers, he was far and away Pittsburgh’s best outside linebacker last fall. The former Virginia Tech Hokie led the team’s outside linebackers in tackles (63) and sacks (8.0) in 2013, and shined down the stretch when he was allowed to play at his comfortable spot of left outside linebacker.
With Worilds set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, Pittsburgh’s brass will have a difficult decision to make. Will they ink the younger and more promising player to an extension? Or will they release the older, fatter and recently ineffective LaMarr Woodley?
Woodley has been an injury-prone disaster for this franchise since he signed a long-term extension back in 2011, and the outside linebacker is in danger of being released to clear cap space for the suddenly surging Worilds. 18.0 sacks and 14 missed games over the last three regular seasons have made the Woodley extension a total mess, and the constant restructuring of his deal and others have put the front office in their current sticky situation.
Whatever the Steelers decide to do with Woodley however, they must make up their minds quickly and already be in the process of covering their bases for the departure of him or Worilds during the upcoming offseason since keeping both will be financially impossible.
If Woodley is going to be released, then those in the front office had better begin, or already be in the process of, drafting extension papers for Worilds. Already cap-strapped to begin with, Pittsburgh’s brass had better come up with a way to extend Worilds before he hits the open market in March and starts to receive more lucrative offers from other teams.
By that same token, Pittsburgh had better be hard at work finding ways to ensure that the loss of Worilds and the retention of Woodley will not cripple them in future seasons. Asking Woodley to take a pay cut or other financial moves to lessen the blow of the outside linebacker’s ridiculous contract will be of the utmost importance. Moreover, if Woodley stays in town, the Steelers’ brass must consider how reliable he will be if he is retained?
Since Pittsburgh will be thin at the outside linebacker position if Woodley or Worilds leaves, will the coaching staff be confident that guys like Chris Carter, Stevenson Sylvester and Jamaal Westerman will be the primary backups behind Jarvis Jones, Woodley or Worilds? If not, will any adequate depth be acquired via free agency or May’s draft?
Woodley’s deal and status with the franchise is an elephant in the room which Pittsburgh’s brass must deal with as soon as possible. Regardless of which decision they make, rolling the dice on Worilds or staying the course with Woodley, answering that question first so they can have the freedom to extend other free agents will do this franchise wonders during what should be another tumultuous offseason.
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