Would A Five-Year, $35 Million Contract Really Keep Steelers LB Jason Worilds In Pittsburgh?

The 2014 free agency signing period begins two weeks from today and the buzz surrounding Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds appears to be picking up more steam.

A few days ago, Tony Pauline of reported that at leased a dozen teams have expressed interest in Worilds while at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, an event that many believe to be the unofficial start of free agency thanks to the legal tampering that goes on there.

So what’s Worilds market value? According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, it’s an average per year of $6-$7 million.

Caplan’s numbers are very believable. Prior to the end of the 2013 season I took a look at Worilds’ potential market value compared to free agent signings from last offseason and it’s easy to see where he might come in at this offseason.

Taking Caplan’s high end of $7 million average per year, that would result in a five-year, $35 million contract for Worilds. So how much guaranteed money would Worilds get if the above projection winds up holding up?

The Cleveland Browns gave Paul Kruger a five-year, $40.5 million contract last offseason and in that $20 million was guaranteed. While they only gave him a $6 million signing bonus, they did give him a first-year roster bonus of $6.285 million and also guaranteed his 2013 and 2014 base salaries. That resulted in Kruger averaging $10 million over the first two years of his new deal.

So will Worilds want $17 million guaranteed with an average yearly value of $8.5 million over the first two years? It’s very possible and it’s conceivable that a team will be willing to pay him that. Some might even view it as a bargain.

If the Steelers were to give Worilds a deal based on the above parameters, they would likely have to give him a $10 million signing bonus, a first-year guaranteed base salary of $1 million and a second-year guaranteed base salary of $6 million. The final three years worth of base salaries would just be window dressing to total out the deal at $35 million.

Based on the parameters above, Worilds’ 2014 cap charge would be just $3 million with his 2015 cap charge coming in at $8 million. Over the life of the deal, assuming it’s never restructured, his yearly cap hit would likely never exceed $9 million.

After the 2016 season, the Steelers could cut Worilds with only $4 million in dead money left to absorb. If made a post June 1st cut following that third year of his deal, that $4 million would then be charged of as $2 million each in 2017 and 2018.

So, would you give Worilds a deal as described above? Would that deal be enough to retain him? Keep in mind that it only takes one team to overpay.

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