Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have signed cornerback Cortez Allen to a new contract prior to the 2014 regular season getting underway, the team has managed to get deals done with not only him, but center Maurkice Pouncey, kicker Shaun Suisham and tackle Marcus Gilbert as well. With all of those contracts now out of the way, that now leaves linebacker Jason Worilds as the only player that could be worthy of receiving the franchise tag next offseason.
Worilds, who will make $9.754 million in 2014 thanks to him signing the one-year transition tag tender given to him back in March, has a huge carrot dangling out in front of him this season.
The Steelers former second-round draft pick recorded eight sacks in 2013 and that number will be expected to increase in 2014 if he expects to receive yet another tag from the team after the season is over.
Worilds, who began the 2013 season as the starting right outside linebacker, quickly lost that job to then-rookie Jarvis Jones after a poor performance in the regular-season opener against the Tennessee Titans. He didn’t start another game until Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens when he was asked to fill in for Jones, who sat out that game with a concussion.
Seven of Worilds eight sacks last season came in the last eight games that he played in, so he’ll be expected to pick up this season where he left off last season on the left side.
Sunday against the Browns, Worilds will see quite a bit of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, who he fared well against last season when the two squared off against one another in Week 12. Schwartz allowed 11 sacks last season, according to Pro Football Focus, but only two during the final eight games.
The Steelers decided to only keep three true outside linebackers on their initial 53 man roster to start the season, so it’s imperative that Worilds not only stays healthy in 2014, but that he also come out of the gate strong after that carrot Sunday against the Browns.