Those following NFL free agency weren't likely surprised at Monday's news, that the Chiefs have slapped their franchise tag on outside linebacker Justin Houston.
Unable to come to a long-term deal with the Chiefs, he would have been among the top free agents available in this year's market.
The fact he won't be may drive up the demand for a veteran outside linebacker, like Pittsburgh's Jason Worilds.
Worilds is coming off a 7.5 sack year, somewhat disappointing after he was given a transition tag last year. He was paid $9.75 million for those 7.5 sacks, and the hope was he'd help bust the Steelers through a mediocre stretch in which they haven't finished with more than 37 sacks or ranked higher than 15th in the NFL in that category in four years.
The Steelers have said they will let Worilds test free agency, which isn't to say they won't cut ties with him as of now. It's possible he returns, but the confirmation Houston won't be available leaves Worilds to compete with Baltimore's Pernell McPhee and Cleveland's Jabaal Sheard as the top pass-rushing outside linebackers available.
Pass rushers always cash in with big free agent contracts if they hit the market. Extenuating circumstances may exist that push a quality outside linebacker from his team, but it's usually due to salary cap reasons or a team simply already having quality players in place.
The Steelers are in more of a cap issue than they are an overabundance of good pass rushers. Worilds can likely command around $6 million per year (that figure is important as it is the primary driver of the formula that determines compensatory picks. Losing a player who signs a contract valued at $6 million per year may result in a team acquiring a fourth or fifth round pick the following season).
With recent moves being made to free up cap space, it would seem the Steelers intend to bring in another outside linebacker, possibly pending free agent Arthur Moats.
Signing him and recouping the loss of Worilds with an additional pick next year makes sense, so long as they can find a way to return to the time when the Steelers actually hit the quarterback frequently.
Justin Houston to get franchise tag, does that drive up Jason Worilds value?
The Chiefs will retain OLB Justin Houston with the franchise tag. With one less competitor on the open market, Jason Worilds may see an uptick in demand for his services