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Monday, March 03, 2014

Steelers place transition tag on Worilds

The Steelers made a surprising move Monday, placing the transition tag on impending free agent linebacker Jason Worilds.

The move came after general manager Kevin Colbert said just a couple of weeks ago the Steelers were unlikely to use any tags this offseason.

But when some of the other top-end pass rushers were taken off the market via tags by their respective teams, it made Worilds one of the hottest prospects on the open market.

So the Steelers covered themselves, somewhat, by tagging Worilds, who led them with eight sacks in 2013 despite making just 11 starts.

The Steelers will now pay Worilds $9.7 million and change if they are unable to work out a long-term deal. He has the right the explore free agency and sign elsewhere, but the Steelers have the right to match the deal.

If they decline to match, however, they receive no compensation.

The tricky part is that teams can continue to offer transition tagged players a contract until July 21 - right before everyone goes to training camp. That, however, is unlikely.

It's somewhat unrealistic to expect a team to make a pitch to Worilds that would count much more than $9.7 million in 2014. A team would have to really front-load his contract with some guaranteed money to make that happen. And, as many Steelers fans are quick to point out, he's only really had one breakout half season.

He has more value to the Steelers, who have liked his potential from the start, than he has elsewhere. And there's also some pressure on the Steelers now to reach a long-term deal with him quickly that will help reduce his 2014 cap hit.

@ The Steelers also are working on an extension with tight end Heath Miller, among others, that will keep him in Pittsburgh in the future while also lowering his $9.5 million cap hit for 2014.

The Steelers, after tagging Worilds, are now about $15 million over the $133 million salary cap.

They can easily shed $6.2 million of that by releasing offensive tackle Levi Brown, and there are some simple restructures - with Antonio Brown for example - that will give them considerable cap savings as well.

But they also have to now get cornerback Ike Taylor to take a cut in pay from the $7 million base salary he's due in 2014.

Something tells me they wouldn't have tagged Worilds unless they were certain they had enough moves to make to get under the cap with relative ease.


Anonymous said...

"... and there are some simple restructures - with Antonio Brown for example - that will give them considerable cap savings as well."

Savings in 2014 while eating up our cap space for 2015. It's the pay day loan method of cap management.

Anonymous said...

pay day loan method that's been in use since 2005. Three super bowls and two wins later and I'm going to go ahead an say they know what they're doing

Dale Lolley said...

Considering the cap is going up to $140 million and the Steelers don't even have players under contract for half of that in 2015, I think they can handle paying that to Brown.

Anonymous said...

I was using that "Act like a GM tool" and I was able to sign Woirlds to a long term contract and get to about 20 million under the cap.
I did so by cutting Levi Brown, extending Ben for the rest of his career, and paying Antonio and Timmons bonuses instead of salary.

I was also able to sign most of our free agents including Ziggy Hood for two years, Woods for two years, Cotchery for two years and Brett Keisel to one more year. For some reason the tool wouldn't let me cut Ike Taylor's salary so I didn't even get to do that.
Based on this fun tool, it seemed there is plenty of money. We can pay the premium Steelers unrestricted guys and maybe even a few other teams decent free agents.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

Steve-O said...

I think this move spells the end for Woodley. His salary alone would cover most of Worilds new contract. The move might not come until June 1st to ease the cap pain but I think we've seen the last of Woodley at LOLB. Such is life n the NFl.

Anonymous said...

"Considering the cap is going up to $140 million and the Steelers don't even have players under contract for half of that in 2015, I think they can handle paying that to Brown."

Because the cost of every single player isn't going to rise as a result of the increase in the cap, right? The pie grew, so every player is going to want his slice to get bigger too. Pouncey hasn't played a down since week 1, and re-signing him just got more expensive.

Cap increases don't help teams, they only help the players.

Anonymous said...

helps both teams and players...

let's say your max is 5 and you have 4 players
1 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 5.

let's say your max is 10 and you have the same 4 players, and 2 of them are up for new contracts this year. and they get bigger pieces of the pie.
1 + 3 + 3 + 2 = 9

Look, we resigned our own players, gave them a bigger piece of the pie, and still have 1 more to play with.

This lesson in basic algebra has been brought to you by Ms. Johnson's 3rd Grade math lecture

Anonymous said...

They should just cut pouncey right away too. The guys injured as much as woodley is. Save that money along w woodley, Ike, Clarke and whoever else and go sign a jarius Byrd, verner from Tennessee, or someone who could make an impact right away.

BlackNGold said...

Mrs. Isaac Redman:

Can you share the link to that tool? Sounds like it could be entertaining while on the train.


marc said...

imo, gradual increases in the cap are player friendly without much benefit for the teams. large increases in the cap are clearly beneficial for the players and also some teams that find themselves in a tough spot, i.e. steelers.

this move by the steelers makes me think they offered him a deal and worilds told them he was testing FA no matter what and they are just protecting themselves a bit. basically, unless some team goes nuts, worilds will be a steeler for at least one more year.

regarding FA, the higher cap doesn't mean the steelers will go hog wild. for the simple reason FA's will be asking for more money than usual and current players will be less likely to take pay cuts because the pie just got bigger for everyone. it's all relative.

adamg said...

Worilds signed the transition tender, so he's off the market for this year. I guess I'm not surprised given his injury history that he'd jump on the 9+M rather than risk getting less on the open market.

The Steelers will have a year to see if the flashes he showed at the end of last season were a fluke or not.

Anonymous said...

If he plays under the transition tag salary this year I will eat my shoe. I think signing the transition tender was just a sign of good faith from Worilds because contract talks are going well. He is saying he is committed to staying with the Steelers and not entering free agency. Not a bad Plan B for him though assuming his Plan A is to sign a long term deal with the Steelers. But he will sign an extension. Hopefully soon. That way we can cut Woodley and have a clear financial picture for free agency in a week.

Eric T said...

adamg, I think they are going to sign him long term to lower his cap number of $9.7 million.

Bill in DC said...

Woodley and Steelers can still do a deal that allows Woodley to earn more than he is likely to make on the open market and reduce the hit dead money hit on the Steelers if they let him go next spring.

Win/win for both.

When was the last time we only needed 2 OLB and why is everyone so sure Jones and Worilds are the answer for 16 games, every down next season?

Between Woodley's injury history, Jones being a 2nd year guy and Worilds not having the greatest body of work I have always preferred to see all 3 next year.

This was possible before the cap jumped -- I posed this scenario late last year and it was dismissed -- but now that there is so much more cap to play with I can't see why the Steelers would not do it.

It's a lot of money -- but they can make it work. If they don't, what is the depth? A #1 pick this year, too?

marc said...

definitely good if they can keep Woodley too, but that will be up to Woodley.

Dale Lolley said...

The Steelers ability to keep Woodley depends greatly on them reaching a long-term agreement with Worilds that lowers his 2014 cap number. They can't afford to have that much money wrapped up in two outside linebackers.

They will need to work out a deal that lowers Worilds' hit into the $7 million per range.

Dale Lolley said...

Or at least lowers his cap hit this year to the $7 million range

Anonymous said...

The paint on the sign that says "goodbye Lamar" has long since dried. gone.

Dale Lolley said...

That is the likely outcome, but a lot depends on how Jones looks during the offseason and if they can sign Worilds to a more cap-friendly deal.

As I have repeatedly stated, they have continually needed at least three OLBs to start games in each of the past four years.

Bill in DC said...

Steelers have some leverage on Woodley too. They get no cap savings till June 1 so a lot of Woodley's market could be gone if Steelers choose not to release him early with a June 1 designation.

Steelers could restructure woodley in a way that the dead money hit is smaller after this season and -- importantly -- a smaller percentage of the 2015 and 2016 caps. I'll trust the FO has a deeper knowledge of all this than I do.

Woodley has leverage too and could get a better deal than he is likely to get when he hits the market, but still a deal that is better for Steelers cap.

Agree that there needs to be a creative way to make this win-win but I think the steelers may be the best fit for Woodley in 2014 and Woodley is the best 2nd or 3rd olb the Steelers will have for next season.

If they can't find a way to make Woodley fit -- and they will have to find a way to make him fit till June 1 -- then they will have cash in the summer to make other extensions and sign draft picks. And find depth at olb.

marc said...

bill, isn't part of woodley's leverage the fact the steeler's would have to cut/restructure other players to get under the cap if they don't release him now with a june 1 designation? certainly, the steelers would want to avoid that if possible.

from woodley's perspective, when is he most valuable to other teams? if he takes a pay cut, plays for the steelers next year and rotates in with the other two - most likely getting the lesser of the snaps - does that not diminish his value to other teams for future FA opportunities. if woodley were to hit the FA market this offseason, would he be one of the premier players available? all these questions make me think woodley's best option is to force the steelers to release him now and get as much money to be a starter for another team instead of a quasi backup for the steelers.

of course, it is the steelers final say, and who knows, they might decide they need him to stay.

Anonymous said...


Here is the link to the tool being Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan

Mrs. Isaac Redman