Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Worilds had a pretty season in 2013, which put the Steelers in a position to either sign Worilds long term or slap the franchise tag on the former Hokie before they would lose him to free agency. The team did neither and slapped the rarely used transition tag on him instead. That tag is worth $10 million, and thus far, it’s looking like a costly one where they may not get much back in return.
Worilds went down early during the first OTA week with an undisclosed injury. Reports came later that Worilds had a wrap around the lower part of his leg. Was it cramping? Was it an injury? Steeler Nation later learned that Worilds sustained a calf injury. Severity? Unknown. But, what we do know is that he’s been on the sidelines the last two weeks. The only thing folks can see is Worilds on the bike every day.
Calf injuries can be tricky. Rewind to 2012, and Troy Polamalu was sidelined multiple times over the course of the season with the same nagging calf injury. His presence on the sideline rather than on the field really hurt the defense, and helped pave the way for a disappointing 8-8 season. Returning to 2014, the Steelers are heavily banking on Worilds being a solid contributor this season, essentially picking up where he left off in the second half of the season – 7 sacks (all but one of his eight total), 32 tackles in seven games played. The linebacking core has been beefed up since the draft and Sean Spence’s rehab, but there are still many questions left to be answered – none more important than can they play well as a core group? If Worilds continues to struggle with his calf injury, which in turn prohibits proper conditioning, which in turns hurts his performance for who knows how many weeks into the season, the Steelers start of the season might not go as well as they would hope.
Which brings us to the question at hand. Should the Steelers seek out former OLB James Harrison as an insurance policy for the season? Harrison was a monster for the Steelers until a bad knee injury knocked him down a few steps when he returned from his recovery. The team let Harrison walk after the front office and Harrison’s agent were at an impasse over what his contract should look like. Harrison signed with the Bengals where he only started in 10 games and racked up only two sacks – a performance that seemed more about a systematic problem rather than the individual athlete.
Harrison is ready to go. His name has been mentioned in countless articles and blog posts as a potential candidate free agent who could return to the Steelers in 2014. He seems like he’s in shape, and still has a great report with former teammates. Just ask Antonio Brown. I think it would be a very smart roster move to sign Harrison with some of the money that is left from LaMarr Woodley’s June 1st release and after all the rookie signings. League vet minimum should do, and I don’t think either side is too prideful to come to an agreement this time around.
We may see Deebo yet in a Steelers uniform once again. And, if Worilds continues to be plagued by this calf injury, we could see plenty of the ol’ Silver Back early on and throughout the season. With Joey Porter riling up this young group, a bit of “old nasty” from Harrison would fit right in.