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Making sense of Jason Worilds shocking retirement

A shocking move announced just hours after the beginning of free agency, where Worilds was set to cash in on a rich market, the 27-year-old outside linebacker is hanging up his cleats.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Willis retiring after eight years can be understood. Jake Locker wasn't a great player set to make big money, so his retirement isn't too much of a shock.

Jason Worilds retiring was expected by no one.

The ex-Steelers linebacker announced his retirement just hours after the start of free agency, sending a shockwave through the NFL on a day where big moves highlighted one of the most active starts to a league year in recent memory.

The question on everyone's mind will be why a player who already has five years invested in the league and was about to make big-time money would walk away. He wasn't significantly injured last season, and while he dealt with bangs and bumps that limited him early in his career, it didn't seem like he had any debilitating injuries.

Judging by the last statement in his announcement:

I appreciate all of the interest from the organizations that have reached out to us the past few days. With that being said, after much thought & consideration I have chosen to step away from football as I have opted to pursue other interests.

I am especially grateful of the opportunity to play before some of the greatest fans in football today. Despite any concern and speculation that may ensue, I appreciate those that are respectful of my decision.

it would seem Worilds is aware of the attention-grabbing nature of his announcement.

As fans and humans, we sincerely hope he doesn't have any other lasting injuries. We have been critical at times of Worilds' play, but never hoped he would walk away from the game in any manner other than a proud and satisfied warrior of the gridiron.

Maybe that's what he's doing now. The dedication and effort necessary to continue a successful NFL career are beyond our comprehension, and we fully respect his decision.

There are plenty of reasons why one may look at a career in the NFL as something less beneficial to one's livelihood. Worilds likely would have received a contract with an average salary per year of around $6 million, if not more, and it's rare when players turn down an extension of that magnitude.

So the question of where Worilds will play in 2015 will not be answered. Not now, at least. His retirement carries with it no salary cap ramifications for the Steelers, the only team he's played for since 2010. The Steelers also will not receive a compensatory pick.

That seems crass but still important to make that statement, but it's true.

What we won't know is whether the Steelers knew this possibility existed. Dejan Kovacevic of DK On Sports said multiple times, after speaking with the man, Worilds really wanted to play in Pittsburgh. Perhaps his plan was "Pittsburgh or bust."

He may be announcing his retirement today, but there's nothing to say he couldn't come out of retirement. While that would certainly cause skepticism about the timing of his announcement, it would still somehow be less weird than a higher-end free agent walking away from the game before he's about to be paid exorbitantly to do so.

If the money isn't right, though, maybe it's better to just walk away before the rigors of this game take their permanent toll.

Best of luck, Jason, we wish you nothing but the best in your future pursuits.