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In a bit of surprise yesterday, the Steelers pulled out the seldom-used Transition Tag for the first time since 2008 and slapped it on outside linebacker Jason Worilds. While the tag didn't prevent Worilds from testing free agency, it bought the Steelers some time and gave them the right to match any deal that Worilds might sign with another team.
Surprise number two happened today as Worilds signed the one-year, $9.754 million Transition offer. This means he cannot test free agency and will be a Steeler in 2014.
The two sides will continue to work on a longer-term deal that will lower the first year cap hit. I would expect them to be working towards something like a 4-year, $35-40 million deal that would provide Worilds with $15-18 million in guaranteed money.
This move also virtually guarantees the Steelers will release LB LaMarr Woodley. The Steelers will save the $25.5 million in cash owed to Woodley on the remaining three years of his deal through 2016. However, the team will not save any cap money by releasing Woodley. There will be a $14.1 dead money hit vs. a $13.59 million hit if he had stayed on the roster this year. The Steelers can push some of that dead money hit into 2015 if they designate his release after June 1. So there may be some short-term cap relief.
This was the big first step in the Steelers offseason plans. Next up, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. I expect an extension (and restructure) to be announced with Polamalu any day. Taylor will either have to take a big paycut from $7 million or likely be released.