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Bengals vs. Steelers: Time for Jason Worilds to make some money

Steelers OLB Jason Worilds faces the best right tackle he's faced during his four-game streak of dominance. He will need to perform, just like LaMarr Woodley, because this is the game potential suitors will watch, including his own team.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

We wrote about Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds in financial projective terms before Pittsburgh's Week 7 game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Worilds, a pending free agent this offseason, was facing left tackle Eugene Monroe as rookie Jarvis Jones was out with a concussion. A big performance with a full compliment of snaps, he could raise his value higher than his mid level producer label he had at that point in his career.

He didn't.

Since that game, Worilds moved over to the defensive left side, and has skyrocketed to team leading levels as well as career highs. While his stats were undeniable, there were fair questions surrounding the level of competition he was facing.

He's got another opportunity on Sunday Night Football to prove his worth, this time, against one of the better right tackles in the game, Cincinnati's Andre Smith.

Since his career revival began in Week 11, Worilds hasn't gone against a right tackle as skilled as Smith is. Along with his own push for employment next season, the Steelers will need an outstanding performance from Worilds if they are to put a dent in a dangerous Bengals offense.

Cincinnati has arguably the best pair of offensive tackles in the NFL, and with the return of Kevin Zeitler to the starting lineup, Andrew Whitworth will return to his natural left tackle spot. As Worilds does his thing against Smith, LaMarr Woodley has a test of his own in terms of his future.

It's getting harder and harder to see this team keeping both Woodley and Worilds next season, and while it isn't likely (or salary cap-conducive), it's not impossible for a team that hasn't gotten much of anything done over the last two seasons to make a move against the entrenched starters.

So this game is huge for both Worilds and Woodley in terms of their contracts next year. And a game the Steelers as well as the rest of the league will watch before pursuing either of them - however that may happen - in free agency next year.