The Pittsburgh Steelers announced this afternoon that they were designating linebacker Jason Worilds as their transition player before free agency begins. The move is somewhat surprising given that GM Kevin Colbert had already said it was doubtful that they’d use either the transition tag or franchise tag this offseason. So what does this mean for Jason Worilds and the Steelers? Let’s break it down.
First of all the transition tag means that the Steelers will have the first right of refusal. What that means is that the Steelers will have the opportunity to match any contract another team might offer Worilds once the free agency period begins. It also means that if Worilds does not sign with another team during the free agency period than the Steelers owe Worilds $9.754 million for the 2014 season.
The move offers both sides some protection in that the Steelers will get the chance to match any offers Worilds receives and Worilds has the protection of being guaranteed at least that $9.754 for next season if he doesn’t find the contract he’s looking for. Also the Steelers can negotiate a long-term deal at any point with Worilds, so that’s still not out of the question.
What isn’t protected under the transition tag is the Steelers compensation should Worilds sign with another team. Unlike a franchise tag, which would net the Steelers a first round pick if Worilds signed elsewhere, the transition tag gives them no compensation at all. The franchise tag would have cost the Steelers $1.701 million more than the transition tag.
The benefits to the Steelers placing the tag on Worilds is they can let him test the market but have the chance to match any offers he might get, which according to CBS Sports, there are varying reports on what kind of interest Worilds will draw on the free agent market. The NFL Network has Worilds ranked pretty high but when looking at his entire body of work he doesn’t have the career thus far to warrant a top money contract. This gives the Steelers a bit more control over Worilds but still maintain the option to sign him to a long-term deal.
The Steelers are now way over the salary cap, just like that. Although NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted earlier today that the Steelers had created cap space by extending Heath Miller’s contract, there has been no confirmation from the Steelers or any other media outlets on that. There will still be a lot of work to do to get compliant with the salary cap and this move doesn’t give them any compensation should Worilds sign elsewhere.
This was a surprising move but I’m sure it’s one in which the Steelers are hoping will turn out in their favor financially. This is one of many moves to come this week as the free agency period begins next Tuesday afternoon.
What are your thoughts, Steeler Nation? Do you think the transition tag on Worilds was a good move?