AFC North Free Agency Watch Day 2: Pittsburgh Steelers

Wednesday was quite a busy day for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially considering that they didn’t actually do anything. In fact, it started just a little after midnight, and it started in a big, and surprising, manner.

That, of course, came in the form of the announcement by free agent outside linebacker Jason Worilds that he intends to retire, despite fielding offers from multiple organizations that no doubt would have landed him in excess of $10 million when factoring in a signing bonus.

Now, it wasn’t obvious by any means that Worilds would be in the Steelers’ future plans, but as the pass rusher market suddenly quickly dried up, and there were no reports of Worilds making any visits, it appeared as though the market was dictating that the 27-year-old lower his price tag.

As it turned out, Worilds informed the Steelers prior to the start of the league year about his intentions to retire. There were reports that inquiring teams were informed of Worilds’ intentions to pursue his religious interests as a Jehovah’s Witness, which would go a long way toward explaining why he wasn’t planning any free agent visits.

Of course, with Worilds taking himself out of the free agent pool, it now looks more likely than ever that the Steelers will eventually turn back to James Harrison, who contributed 5.5 sacks a year ago in what was largely a rotational role until late in the season.

Harrison has already made his intentions clear that he plans to play in 2015, and he has also made it clear that he wants to play for the Steelers. But he is also open to following Dick LeBeau to Tennessee, which could potentially force Pittsburgh to act more quickly than they intended, unless the Titans land one of the two top remaining viable outside linebackers on the market.

In other news, the Steelers did lose their first free agent of the season when cornerback Brice McCain agreed to a two-year contract with the Dolphins worth $5.5 million. There was a report that there was an offer on the table from the Steelers for McCain, but it was evidently less than the one he ended up accepting.

The Steelers did want to bring back McCain, but they didn’t want to pay more than he was going to be worth to them going forward in what they anticipate to be a reduced role compared to last season, in which he started most of the year, unexpectedly.

That doesn’t mean that Pittsburgh has lost interest in the defensive backs market, however. After being previously connected to Cary Williams, the Steelers are now also believed to be interested in former Saint Patrick Robinson, once a first-round draft pick.

Many believe that a change of scenery would do Robinson good, and he could be a solid starter in the right situation. In more concrete news, the Steelers reportedly have set up a visit for free agent running back DeAngelo Williams. Though on the wrong side of 30, he could be an early season option to eat up carries while Le’Veon Bell serves his suspension.

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