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Outside Linebacker Market Already Thin Just One Day Into Free Agency

With announcement late Tuesday night that free agent Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds is retiring from football, the team might look to add another free agent pass rusher at some point during the signing period. At the time of this post, there are still several unsigned free agents that would fit the Steelers scheme and we will review several of them below.

Brian Orakpo – Orakpo already has visits scheduled with other teams. He does, however, come with injury concerns as he’s torn his left his pectoral muscle twice over the course of the last three seasons with the Washington Redskins. Orakpo is still only 28 years-old and because of his injury history, his price tag should be fairly reasonable. He has recorded 40 sacks in the 71 regular season games that he’s played in.

Jabaal Sheard – Sheard, a University of Pittsburgh product, will turn 26 in May. During his first four seasons in the league with the Cleveland Browns, Sheard has recorded 190 total tackles and 23 sacks in 61 regular-season games. Last season with the Browns, Sheard only started five games and played only 690 snaps. He has played on both sides during his career and that’s a plus. Sheard has reportedly already met with the New England Patriots and he’s bound to have a few other teams interested in talking to him.

Derrick Morgan – Morgan, who was drafted in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech by the Tennessee Titans, also appears to have several teams interested in his services. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania product turned 26 in January and has already recorded 191 total tackles and 23 sacks in 66 regular-season games played. Morgan has struggled at times against the run while with the Titans but did record 6.5 sacks to go along with 7 defensed passes in 2014. He dropped into coverage 158 times last season as well. Even though Morgan is scheduling visits, you have the think that the Titans are monitoring his situation closely.

James Harrison – Harrison still wants to play and is currently training out in Arizona as if he will. Because of his age, he’s unlikely to have many teams interested in signing him as was the case last offseason after he was released by the Cincinnati Bengals. Harrison recorded 5.5 sacks last season with the Steelers and he really was playing well in the middle of the year after he knocked his retirement rust off. As strange as it might sound, Harrison might be the Steelers best option if the team is unable to sign any of the three players listed above. If he’s willing to take the veteran minimum or slightly above on a one-year deal, the Steelers can play him until his wheels fall off without having much financial risk involved.

Kroy Biermann – Biermann¬†will turn 30 in September and so far it doesn’t appear as though he’s drawing much interest in the early stages of the free agent signing period. The former fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons has never had more than five sacks in a season in his first seven years in the league, however, and he’s probably best suited to play end in a 4-3 defense at his age. He does have a nasty side to him and he figures to come cheap, so there’s that.

O’Brien Schofield – Schofield, who was originally drafted in the fourth-round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin by the Arizona Cardinals, has spent the last two seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. While he’ll only turn 28 in April, Schofield has only started 11 games during his first five seasons in the league. He has registered all of 13.5 sacks during his career and is regarded as being a backup player at best at this point.

Akeem Ayers – Ayers started five games last season for the Patriots and recorded four sacks in just over 400 regular-season snaps played. The former second-round draft pick of the Titans out of UCLA is probably a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 then he is a 3-4 outside linebacker. Ayers reportedly has the St. Louis Rams interested in him early on in the free agency signing period and it really would be surprising if the Steelers showed any interest in him.

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