The Pittsburgh Steelers have some huge decisions to make at the outside linebacker position in the offseason, and their choices will affect their entire defense at a position that has largely been a marquee one for the Steelers franchise. From 2008-2011, LaMarr Woodley was a fixture at OLB on the Steelers defense, but he fell flat in 2012 and didn’t bounce back in 2013. He suffered through nagging injuries, had just nine sacks combined in both seasons (he had at least nine sacks in each of the previous four seasons), and several people questioned his effort in 2012.
With Woodley set to make $8 million next season as a 29-year-old, it is possible that the Steelers could make him a cap casualty. They might have to in order to keep Jason Worilds around, or they would have to bench last year’s first-round pick Jarvis Jones for a second straight seasons and then make a decision on Woodley before Jones’s third year. I mean, they didn’t draft the talented Georgia Bulldogs product to be a career backup; he is supposed to be an impact player down the road.
Worilds also has no intention of being a mere “bit” player on the Steelers defense, and he stated that he will only stay with the team if they start him. He told ESPN NFL Nation’s Scott Brown, “If the circumstances are right, for sure. They haven’t been right for me in the past. I wouldn’t want to fall back into (not starting) again.”
The 2013 season was definitely a breakout one for the 25-year-old Virginia Tech product, as he recorded a career-high eight sacks. He has plenty of potential to do more, but the Steelers will have to hope that he isn’t just a flash-in-the-pan. Worilds will get plenty of looks in the offseason, and it probably makes more sense for the team to keep him and start both Worilds and Jones while also releasing Woodley. It’s tough to move on from a former star like Woodley, but the team also had no issues with saving money and dropping a more productive- albeit older- James Harrison last year.