Jason Worilds, let's make a deal.
A few of Worilds' veteran teammates, not coincidentally ones who signed long-term deals last year, were gracious enough to restructure their current contracts to get a big late-February bonus on their 2015 salaries.
It seems logical to conclude Worilds is the Steelers' top target before free agency begins March 10.
Unlike Ben Roethlisberger, who also may see some movement in his negotiations, Worilds has no current cap charge for the 2015 season. While losing no player on the roster inspires the same level of fear as losing Roethlisberger does, the loss of Worilds presents a significant challenge this offseason in terms of rebuilding depth of an already thin outside linebackers group.
Worilds, statistically, did not exceed his production of a career-boosting second half of 2013, in which he racked up most of his career sacks to that point. He admitted this offseason he was used as "a decoy" in the Steelers' defense last year, perhaps offering an explanation as to his lower-than-expected sack totals.
It seems reasonable to suggest Worilds will ask for something around five years and $30 million, with around $11 million guaranteed, based on the market, and providing something of a discount, instead of receiving more money to play amid constant roster changes and turmoil.
Translation: taking a discount to not be Cleveland's Paul Kruger.
The reported $9.5 million in 2015 cap space opened up allows some wiggle room for the team to negotiate, and its policy of automatically providing second-year bonuses by way of restructuring contracts means Worilds would be in line to have more of his 2016 salary guaranteed just by producing at a reasonable level.
The Steelers' other extension receiver in 2014, Cortez Allen, was not among the bonus check receivers Wednesday.
The reality is pass rushers cost money. It's the same reason they're drafted so highly. They're cheap in their rookie deals, and the best ones will make more than everyone on the team except the quarterback and the owner.
Worilds deserves an extension.
The market is set, and his production as well as his age suggest he's about to land a deal for around $6 million to $7 million a season. For now, we can just hope both Worilds and Mike Tomlin can agree making a player that much money a year to serve as a decoy is not a prudent strategy.