Jason Worilds will stay, but only as a starter

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Worilds commented this week on the current predicament that he and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in at the outside linebacker position.

One of the biggest decisions that the Pittsburgh Steelers will make during the 2014 offseason is whether to re-sign Jason Worilds or keep Lamarr Woodley.

Doing both would be a difficult task, as the Steelers are approximately $10 million over the salary cap heading into the 2014 season.  With Jarvis Jones still lying in wait as the first round draft pick, it would be a tall task for Pittsburgh to keep both their sack leader in of 2013, Jason Worilds, and the linebacker they set to pay the most money in 2014, Lamarr Woodley.  The former Michigan Wolverine is set to make a base salary of $8 million in the upcoming season; that's only a quarter million less than what the Steeles are set to pay Polamalu in 2014.

While the main issue surrounding negotiations of Worilds with the team had been about money and salary cap space, Worilds brought forward another issue this week in a phone interview with ESPN.com.

"If the circumstances are right, for sure," Worilds said. "They haven't been right for me in the past. I wouldn't want to fall back into (not starting) again."

Worilds was drafted in the same round as Lamarr Woodley, but four years later.  Since then it was a struggle for him to see playing time behind both Woodley and former-Steeler James Harrison.  He has missed out on having two full offseasons so far, one maligned by a necessary surgery and another lost due to the NFL lockout.  After working his way to the top of the depth chart, it is most understandable that he would want to be assured a starting spot.

"I've just been patient and (waiting to) see how the Steelers view me," said Worilds, who has been training in his native New Jersey. "The biggest thing is just being in the right situation."

Patience has been the virtue for Worilds.  He has steadily improved as a player in Pittsburgh, amassing the 2nd most sacks on the team in 2012 (to James Harrison) and totaling the most sacks in 2013.  Had the team not picked up Jarvis Jones in the first round last season, this may not have become as much of an issue.

Worilds' quote this week probably wasn't anything new to Kevin Colbert and the Steelers' staff; but it certainly puts this story more center-stage for the Steelers' offseason.  Woodley has been a big name for the Steelers for several seasons now, but has been constantly maligned with injuries since he pulled his hamstring in his three-sack-game against the New England Patriots in 2011.  Signing Worilds for cheaper, and letting go of Woodley's humongous salary may be the best option here.  It would bring an unfortunate end to the tenure of a Steeler who had been seen as the future of the franchise and still averages more than one sack per game in the playoffs.

This is arguably the biggest decision the Steelers will make this offseason.

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