I have a favorite number, and that number is eight. Don't ask me why, but I've been fond of it since long-before Tommy Maddox wore it in the early 00s.
I wonder how Jason Worilds feels about that number, right now, because it was the eight sacks he recorded in 2013, the final year of his rookie contract, that have made him the Steelers new $9.754 million man.
Worilds assured himself of making that much money in 2014 after signing the transitional tag Pittsburgh placed on him Monday afternoon.
Worilds sure has come a long way since being the guy the Steelers drafted in 2010 INSTEAD of Sean Lee. He's also come a long way since being called the Michelin Man (a joke on his weight) and just plain blah for a second round draft choice.
Seriously, of all the young talent to come through these parts in recent years, and all the angst that people felt about them actually leaving, who would have thought that Worilds would eventually be the one Pittsburgh would so covet, it would actually tag him with a very high price?
Two years ago, I wondered out loud if 2012 would be a "make or break" year for Worilds. And during that season, his play was just barely less nondescript than the previous two, which firmly placed him in the same "coveted" category as the Stevenson Sylvesters and Chris Carters of the world (no offense to either of them).
But timing, as they say, is often the key to life, and Worilds picked the right time to have his breakout year. After being so cap strapped in recent years, they could barely entertain the thought of keeping some of their coveted young free agents, and after apparently losing all faith in LaMarr Woodley and his "one sack for every two times on the injury list" history since signing his mega-contract in 2011, the Steelers have apparently decided to cast their lot with the young and still largely unproven Worilds.
Not since the days of Max Starks and his own transition tag, mere months before being maybe the most tolerable member of the Steelers dreadful 2008 offensive line, has a player been as fortunate as Worilds, who couldn't have had a better job interview than the performance he pulled off on a defense that was quickly making people forget the definition of "pass-rusher."
Now, it's up to No. 93 to either use 2014 as another job interview, or hope the Steelers eagerness to keep him allows for some more creative cap maneuvering, which will free up enough space to enable Worilds to strike it rich with a deal that many fans didn't even know they would be hoping for when they were still wishing he was Sean Lee.