The Pittsburgh Steelers will head into the offseason with several players as free agents and issues concerning the salary cap. Now it’s time the Steelers address these issues and makes space for some extra coin, at the same time keeping and cutting players.
An interesting position that will have a lot of focus on it is linebacker. The Steelers need to look at LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds because it would seem there’s only room for one of these guys next season.
Woodley’s contract has him scheduled to make over $25 million within the next three seasons with the Steelers. With some reconstruction, Woodley will hold down about $13 million in cap space during the 2014 season and around $14 million in 2015.
Back when the Steelers signed Woodley to this deal it seemed like a good idea. He had been a big contributor to a lot of the team’s success on defense and after James Harrison left the team, Woodley was seen as the team’s best linebacker.
Times are changing though. Woodley’s become injury prone. This season the linebacker spent time on the sidelines due to a calf injury, registering just five sacks as his injuries have caused him to lose his worth. Cutting Woodley would be a good option for the Steelers at this point. His production isn’t worth the money he’s getting.
Here’s where it gets tricky. To release Woodley before June 1, 2014 the Steelers would be taking a hit in their salary cap, paying him more money to let him go than to keep him.
If they released Woodley after June 1 though, they’d be able to save a lot more money. So why not take that route?
Enter Jason Worilds.
Worilds is a promising outside linebacker and showed a lot of his potential this season for the Steelers. It’s pretty clear that the Steelers need to bring Worilds back and sign him to a quality deal. The Steelers can’t be making a habit of losing young talent in favor of older talent. A prime example of losing a promising youngster was when the team was unable to lock up cornerback Kenan Lewis who went on to have a great season with the New Orleans Saints.
Worilds enters this offseason as one of the many unrestricted free agents on the Steelers’ roster. Worilds will probably get looks from other teams, willing to give him a chance because he’s certainly worth a chance. The Steelers need to lock up Worlids.
Where it gets dicey is when you look at the Woodley situation, releasing Woodley after June 1 in order to save some money would really put locking up Worilds in jeopardy. That’s the biggest concern the Steelers face.
I believe the Steelers need to let go of Woodley early, take the cap space hit and focus on signing Worilds. Signing Worilds to a comfortable deal for both sides is a big step in making this defensive unit younger and better.
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