When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Jarvis Jones in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, at the time it pretty much spelled the end of the Steelers career for linebacker Jason Worilds, who was entering the final year of his contact.
However, things haven’t exactly played out that way and no one mentioned to Worilds that he was likely going to be the odd man out in the grand scheme of things.
While Jones is still set as the future outside linebacker on the right side, Worilds’ breakout season has all but spelled the end of LaMarr Woodley‘s Steelers career instead.
The question must be asked of how much is Worilds worth on the open market. Worilds is going to have some leverage in negotiations after the season, knowing he has outplayed Woodley by a wide margin.
His past five weeks have been spectacular as Worilds has racked up 34 tackles and four sacks. On the season, Worilds has 60 tackles and seven sacks while alternating between a starting and backup role.
That’s not bad production from a guy who entered training camp as almost an afterthought.
He’s also graded out well by Pro Football Focus. In the past five weeks with him playing the left outside linebacker spot, Worilds has posted positive grades of 2.3, 4.5, 6.6, 1.8 and 1.2.
However it is worth noting that Worilds posted positive grades only twice in the previous 10 weeks while playing the right side. That begs the question of whether or not this nice five-week stretch of play is worth a big money contract from the Steelers.
By far this is the best Worilds has played in his four-year NFL career, but it is still only a five-week sample size out of a four-year audition, so the Steelers will have to be careful on what type of deal they offer.
It’s clear, like most pass rushers, that Worilds is better suited on the left side where he can line up opposite a tight end or right tackle opposed to a competent NFL left tackle.
It’s also clear that the Steelers can’t pay both Worilds and Woodley as some franchise is going to make Worilds a very wealthy man in the offseason.
That leaves the Steelers’ front office with a very difficult decision in the offseason, one in which they have to assign a value to Worilds.
Will they part ways with Woodley to free up some money to keep Worilds in a Steelers uniform or will they allow their emerging pass rusher to follow in the footsteps of Mike Wallace and Keenan Lewis, who found big-money offers elsewhere?
After the next two weeks, the Steelers’ attention will turn to the offseason. You have to think that a decision on Worilds will be priority No. 1 for Kevin Colbert and his staff.
Judging by their past history, it likely won’t be an easy decision to make.