During the first few hours of the new league year, when it appeared as though Pittsburgh Steelers unrestricted free agent linebacker Jason Worilds wasn’t receiving much attention, I wondered if the organization probably knew that ahead of time and thus had their sights on re-signing the former second-round draft pick at a very affordable price. Worilds, however, went on to shock a lot of people at the end of the first day of free agency by announcing that he was retiring and even if hadn’t, it appears as though general manager Kevin Colbert had no plans to re-sign him anyway.
“We didn’t know where Jason’s (free-agent) market was going to go. We anticipated it being much more than we were going to be able to handle, so his deciding to retire really didn’t affect us because he really wasn’t in our plans,” said Colbert Sunday evening while in Arizona preparing for the annual owner’s meetings that get underway this week. “I am surprised that Jason did it at this point, but I respect his wishes to move on with his life.”
Before Worilds announced that he was retiring, the Steelers had already re-signed fellow unrestricted free agent linebacker Arthur Moats and on the surface it looked as if the team still might explore other free agents at the position. And perhaps they did, judging by a comment made Sunday by Colbert.
“We knew we weren’t going to be big players (in free agency) so we’re not surprised where we are at this point,” Colbert said Sunday. “If there was a deal that made sense, we would have made it. We looked, we kicked some tires, some players kicked some tires with us; didn’t match up, that’s OK.”
Ultimately the team decided on Sunday to re-sign veteran James Harrison, who was also entertaining an offer from the Tennessee Titans. Harrison will now be asked to mentor the younger linebackers on the roster and it sounds like he’ll be given every opportunity to start as well.
With the free agent signings now slowing to a crawl, Colbert sounds happy with what the team was able to accomplish over the course of the last few weeks even if it included only one outside free agent signing.
“We went into free agency, I guess, really trying to hold serve,” Colbert said, according to Mike Prisuta of DVE Radio. “We didn’t think we were going to be big players. It’s not over yet, but I really don’t anticipate a lot of big moves from this point forward. So we wanted to be able to come out of it retaining as many guys as we could. We were able to do that in some cases and then bring in a running back in DeAngelo Williams. We thought that was a very important piece.”
With Moats, Harrison and Jarvis Jones now all under contract for 2015, Colbert won’t feel pressed to draft another outside linebacker in the first round just to fill an immediate need and in the process bypass a player at another position that the organization might have graded higher.