The Pittsburgh Steelers appeared busy on Monday by making moves on a couple of players. They adjusted TE Heath Miller’s contract by either making take a pay cut or extending his terms with the team (most are going with the latter until the team releases full details). The Steelers also placed the Transition Tag on OLB Jason Worilds in an attempt to release some cap space (as long as a team doesn’t offer more than $9.7 million) and not be forced to tip their hand about what they want to do with the Worilds/Woodley duo.
Many fans and numerous pundits are all but scraping Woodley’s name off his locker. As long as Worilds stays, there’s no room for Woodley. But the situation with Worilds is far from over.
The Transition Tag, though sexy in its appeal of saving money and preventing a player from freely shopping the market without consent from their current team, has its risks. The biggest risk is the time frame of this tag. The Transition Tag lasts from March 3rd and expires by July 22nd. At that time the Steelers would automatically retain Worilds and owe him a guaranteed salary of $9.754 million. Anytime between now and the end of July, Worilds can be sent an offer sheet from any team wanting to contest for him. The Steelers would have a week to match the offer. How is this a risk other than the Steelers won’t have Worilds anymore?
We know the Steelers won’t keep both Woodley and Worilds. The assumption is that Woodley would get cut on or after June 1st so that his dead money is less of a hit on the cap, freeing up more money for the team. If the Steelers cut Woodley in June because they need to make an important move like say re-sign Big Ben to a long term deal or sign their draft picks, and Worilds is offered a deal the Steelers aren’t prepared to match, then they will be in quite the pickle. They could end up without both OLB’s. That couldn’t happen, so they would need to match the offer and potentially make a cut on the roster that they weren’t ready for.
I’m on the fence about this tag on Worilds. I hope it doesn’t bit the Steelers in the butt, but I could see a team that becomes desperate for a solid OLB due to changes within their own squad make a big play for Worilds in the month of June. The Steelers have from now until July 22nd to also sign Worilds to a long term deal. Maybe once they release Woodley, they can sign Worilds to a long term deal during June – but my instinct says that money is for other worthier players. Until then, I’ll be popping the Pepto.
Update: Ed B of the PPG and Jason LaCanfora have both reported on Twitter that Worilds has agreed to his transition tender. This moves him out of contention for another team and removes him off the free agency list. The Steelers could still work out a long term deal with Worilds during the offseason.