Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Getting It Right at Olb Is Crucial

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Getting It Right at Olb Is Crucial

Article excerpt

For a team that has produced so many great linebackers, Pro Bowl linebackers, even Hall of Fame linebackers, the Steelers suddenly are having a hard time getting it right at, arguably, the most important position in their 3-4 defense.

The Steelers gave LaMarr Woodley a huge, multiyear deal before the 2011 season, and he hasn't come close to living up to it. They drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round of the NFL draft last spring and, though it's way too early to label him a bust, he had a disappointing rookie season. Now, after misjudging the potential of Jason Worilds a year ago, they are facing the possibility of having to overpay to keep him.

Oh, for the days of Jack Ham.

Clearly, the Steelers want to keep Worilds, who, before they put their transition tag on him Monday, was set to become an unrestricted free agent next week. Now, the team has the right to match any offer he receives. If no other club gives him an offer sheet, the Steelers will have to pay him $9,754,000 next season in a one-year deal.

The transition tag makes some sense. It means the Steelers won't have to bid against themselves for Worilds. Another club will determine his market value, and they can decide if he's worth it. But putting the more restrictive franchise tag on Worilds would have made more sense. It would have cost the Steelers $11,455,000 for him next season, but it virtually would have assured he would stay. No team would give up two first-round draft choices plus the big money to lure him away. The Steelers could then try to do a long-term contract with Worilds.

The Steelers could have avoided this if they had signed Worilds to a multiyear deal before the 2013 season. They generally sign the players they want before those players get to free agency. There are exceptions. Ryan Clark re-signed after becoming a free agent. Ike Taylor also re-signed after his previous contract expired. But it's much harder to sign a player after he reaches free agency. The Steelers didn't feel comfortable doing a deal with Worilds last summer based on his limited production -- 10 sacks in 42 games -- in his first three NFL seasons. …

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