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Steelers' Worilds quiet about future

| Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014, 9:57 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds rushes against Emmanuel McCary during practice Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at St. Vincent College.
Chaz Palla | Trib Total Media
Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds during practice Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, in Latrobe.

All Jason Worilds could muster was a shake of the head.

For a self-proclaimed boring, quiet person, a subtle nod is about the best you are going to get out of the Steelers' sack leader from 2013, especially when it comes to his contract.

Five months after he agreed to a one-year transition tag that prevented Worilds from becoming an unrestricted free agent and guaranteed him $9.745 million, and 34 days until the Steelers self-imposed cutoff date to negotiate contracts arrives, there have been general discussions, but nothing of significance.

The Steelers seem willing to see if Worilds can reproduce his 2013 season — he led the team with eight sacks — before committing long-term money to him.

Or, the Steelers could be waiting to see if they can sign their other pending free agents first.

Either way, Worilds is fine with playing on his transition tag deal.

“There's no sense in looking past this year now,” Worilds said. “Going into free agency, I had opportunities to go other places, but I wanted to be here and I am glad to be here. That's all I can ask for.”

The Steelers have plenty of flexibility to get Worilds, 26, under contract long term if they want. Actually, signing Worilds to a long-term deal immediately would give them relief under the salary cap. The Steelers are around $6 million under the cap with possible extensions to Cortez Allen and Marcus Gilbert looming.

All of Worilds' contract counts against the $133 million salary cap this year.

General manager Kevin Colbert didn't rule out getting a deal done with Worilds before the start of the season.

“How much and how many, it's hard to say because one deal will affect another deal, so again we will see,” Colbert said. “We would like to do as much business as we can within our constraint time-wise and cap-wise.”

If a deal doesn't get done, the Steelers have options, and so does Worilds.

The Steelers could transition-tag Worilds again or franchise him. Either way, it would be another year of $10 million-plus guaranteed salary.

“I really don't care about that stuff,” Worilds said. “I'm boring. I just want the team to get better.”

A rush outside linebacker is supposed to be brash and outspoken —especially in Pittsburgh, where some of its best pass-rushers were also the most vocal.

That's not Worilds' style.

“Jason is one of the quietest people I have been around,” linebacker Jarvis Jones said. “Even when you try to get him to talk, you can't get much out of him. He is quiet. It is something you have to respect. His words are very limited.”

Until last year, Worilds' playing time and contributions were limited as well.

The Steelers drafted Worilds with their second-round pick in 2010, but injuries, ineffectiveness and players such as LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison in front of him stunted his growth.

Worilds' breakout season last year included 63 tackles to go along with the eight sacks, despite starting only 11 games.

“He gave you eight sacks in a half of a year, and you have guys starting the entire year (who) can't give you four,” cornerback Ike Taylor said.

Worilds' play allowed the Steelers to cut Woodley in the offseason.

While some want to see if last year was a fluke, Worilds isn't one of them.

“I have personal goals, but not proving that last year wasn't a fluke,” Worilds said. “Ever since I have been here, I have been trying to get consistent and get better every day. I think that will help me take my game to another level.”

Mark Kaboly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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