The Pittsburgh Steelers chose not to tag soon-to-be unrestricted free agent linebacker Jason Worilds and with the start of the new league year just a few days away, he will almost certainly be hitting the open market. So what should Worilds and his agent be looking for when it comes to a long-term deal? According to former agent Joel Corry, the Steelers former second round draft pick should start with an asking price of $10.75 million per season.
In a Friday afternoon article on CBSSports.com, Corry, who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, a sports management firm that represents professional athletes and coaches, projected what 19 of the top free agents this offseason should use as a starting asking price, and he thinks Worilds should command $53.75 million over five years with $27.5 million of that being guaranteed.
Worilds, who registered 7.5 sacks last season, earned $9.754 million in 2014 after being given the transition tag by the Steelers, so the average yearly value that Corry has projected is just slightly more than that number.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans figure to be two teams interested in Worilds this offseason and we’ll watch closely to see what the final numbers of the contract that he ultimately signs with a team are.
The Steelers will more than likely be looking for a free agent player to replace Worilds this offseason and if you’re hoping Baltimore Ravens free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Pernell McPhee will be one of their targets, you might be interested to know that Corry has his free agent value as being just a little less than Worilds’.
Corry believes that McPhee, who ranked third in the league last season among edge rushers in PFF’s pass rushing productivity metric, should command fives years for $50 million with half of that money being guaranteed.
Another soon-to-be unrestricted free agent that could interest the Steelers, Buffalo Bills defensive end/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, should command $60 million over fives years with $34 million of that being guaranteed, according to Corry. Hughes has registered 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons and averaged 49 total tackles during that same span.
I have a feeling that the Steelers might have to lower their sights some this offseason if they are indeed interested in signing a free agent outside linebacker type. Currently, Brandon Graham and Jabaal Sheard are both set to hit the market next week and both could potentially be targets for the Steelers. Graham, who registered 5.5 sacks last season while only starting one game, is reportedly looking for a four-year deal worth $30 million with $20 million guaranteed. Why the Eagles wont re-sign him for that amount, if it is indeed true, is beyond me.
As for Sheard, he registered just two sacks and 44 total tackles last season with the Cleveland Browns. While the Pittsburgh product did play in all 16 games last season, he only started five times. His asking price figures to be lower than Grahams’.
While teams must wait until 4 p.m. Tuesday to officially sign free agents, they will be allowed to start negotiating with them as early as Saturday evening. One would think that Worilds and his agent will be busy in the first 48 hours of free agency and come Monday there’s a good chance that he will have already signed a contract with a new team.