Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The next big thing: Steelers
By Scott Brown
The Steelers have 21 unrestricted free agents and team president Art Rooney II dropped a pretty strong hint last week about which one tops their list as far as trying to re-sign. Rooney cited outside linebacker Jason Worilds when asked during a conference call with season-ticket holders about the Steelers' top priorities regarding their own free agents.
Worilds came into his own in 2013 after underachieving through his first three seasons. He led the Steelers with eight sacks and dominated at times after settling in at left outside linebacker for the injured LaMarr Woodley. The 2010 second-round pick is in now in a position to cash in, and he has a lot of leverage with the Steelers given Woodley's uncertain future in Pittsburgh. ESPN's Mike Sando lists Worilds No. 22 on his list of “must-sign” free agents and second among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Look for the Steelers to make every effort to re-sign Worilds before he hits the open market on March 11 and even consider using one of the tags that would prevent him from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Reinforcements for a defense that slipped from first in 2012 to No. 13 in yards allowed will come more from the draft than free agency. The Steelers have already been linked with Notre Dame's Louis Nix II, the best nose tackle in the draft, and they could also strongly consider a safety at No. 15 overall, such as Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
That is not to say the Steelers won't use their first pick in May on an offensive tackle or a tall wide receiver such as Texas A&M's Mike Evans or Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin.