Jason Worilds tag buys the Steelers time

Steel City wake-up: morning links

The Steelers used the transition tag on Monday for the first time since 2008, slapping it on Jason Worilds to maintain some control over the outside linebacker’s rights once the free-agent signing period begins.

The tag at the very least buys the Steelers more time to try to sign Worilds to a long-term contract.

Team are not allowed to negotiate with the two players who were given transition tags – Browns center Alex Mack is the other one – until March 22. That is two weeks after teams are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with clients of players who will be unrestricted free agents.

In Worilds’ case, it is significant that he will have to sit out the first wave of free agency since that has traditionally been when many of the big contracts are signed and there is a lot of movement.

But given how few pass-rushers there are in this year’s class of free agents, there figures to be teams that are willing to wait on Worilds and make a run at him once his negotiating window opens.

The transition tag is not a deterrent for other teams signing players with that designation, and it only gives the Steelers the right to match an offer should Worilds sign with another team.

If Worilds does not sign a multiyear contract, either to stay in Pittsburgh or go elsewhere, the Steelers would have to pay him $9.75 million in 2014 and he would again become a free agent next year.

Here are some morning links:

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ron Cook writes that the Steelers did the right thing by using the transition tag on Worilds. The Steelers, Cook opines, had little choice but to tag the fourth-year veteran.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette looks at how tagging Worilds will impact the Steelers moving forward. The Steelers still have to clear room under the salary cap and Bouchette reports that the team is in discussions with tight end Heath Miller about restructuring his contract.

  • Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola sets up free agency for the Steelers and what their priorities may be with their own players who are eligible to hit the open market on March 11.

A quick look at the other teams in the AFC North:

  • ESPN.com Browns writer Pat McManamon says the transition tag used on Mack should keep the center in Cleveland for the foreseeable future.

  • ESPN.com Ravens writer Jamison Hensley writes that Baltimore made the right call by not tagging offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.

  • ESPN.com Bengals writer Coley Harvey looks at why Cincinnati is ready to let defensive end Michael Johnson and offensive tackle Anthony Collins test free agency.