2021 Offseason Questions: Will Chris Wormley Be Back In Pittsburgh, And At What Price?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Chris Wormley be back in Pittsburgh, and what will his market be?

About a year ago, the Steelers sent a fifth-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for defensive end Chris Wormley and a seventh-round pick. A former third-round selection who was good for 400-plus snaps a year with Pittsburgh’s divisional rivals, Wormley was entering the final year of his rookie contract and due for a salary boost thanks to the Proven Performance Escalator, which resulted in his being owed a bit over $2 million in 2020 for what translated into just 148 snaps.

Now, that doesn’t sound like such a good deal overall, on the surface. But if the Steelers view Wormley as a player that they would like to retain as long-term depth a la Tyson Alualu, then it could be feasible. Already a Steelers fan, I’m sure he would welcome staying in Pittsburgh—but he’d also like to make money.

The question is, what is his price? In 13 games last season, he put up a total of eight tackles with one sack. How much more above the veteran minimum could he command for himself? According to the last CBA, a player with four years of accrued experience would earn a minimum of $990,000 in 2021.

Wormley’s rookie contract from 2017 paid him over $3.5 million over the past four years, with the PPE adding another $1.3 on top of that for a total payout of roughly $5 million over the first four years of his career.

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