There seems to be some conflicting reports out there as to whether or not the Pittsburgh Steelers offered a long-term contract to LB Jason Worilds. First it was reported that the Steelers made an offer to the 5th year linebacker on a multi-year deal to which he declined. Now, reports are coming out that there was never an offer on the table and the two sides haven’t even negotiated since Worilds signed his transition tag back in March.
So which is right?
The first report came from Ed Bouchette’s 6/12 blog on the PPG. Here is the exact blurb about the Worilds contract situation:
“Turns out, the Steelers made Jason Worilds a multi-year contract offer a while ago, sources say. His side did not accept it. I have no idea what that offer was, but I am told that offer stands and they will go no higher, that he either takes it or plays this season for the $9.7 million one-year deal he signed as their transition player.” – Ed Bouchette
The blurb, as it turns out, was then picked up by nfl.com by Around the League’s Chris Wesseling, quoting Ed Bouchette as the source that Worilds turned down an offer by the Steelers.
Wednesday, Mark Kaboly, who covers the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Trib Review, reports that no such deal was ever offered to Worilds.
“I was told that Worilds was not offered a contract by the Steelers and that there have been no talks between the two sides since Worilds agree to the transition tag three months ago. It was recently reported that Worilds rejected a contract offer by the Steelers, which remains on the table.” – Mark Kaboly
In my opinion, it makes more sense to believe that a deal was never offered as opposed to offered, declined, and remains on the table considering the fact that Worilds signed his transition tag in almost record-time.
The one thing this does prove is that the Steelers handle their contract negotiations pretty privately, and even the longest tenured writers who are closest to the situation might not know what’s being done or what’s not being done at Steelers headquarters. Columnists, writers, and bloggers will do their damnedest to try and predict or analyze what the Steelers may or may not do with any given players’ contracts but seems like most of the time it’s just guessing. It also proves that if nfl.com is reporting it, there’s a very good chance it’s not true.
It’s looking more and more like Worilds will play this season under the $9.7 million transition tag contract because the sides have until July 15th to come to terms on a new deal. If there really hasn’t been talks yet, the plan might be to let Worilds play under that transition tag deal, see how he performs, and let the market dictate where they go from there. They could always choose to franchise tag him next offseason if they want to prevent him from hitting free agency before they have another chance to sign him to a long-term deal.