ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan tweeted out an interesting nugget during the Philadelphia Eagles versus Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game on Thursday night regarding Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds.
Caplan's (oddly-timed) report here confirms a rumor from back in early March that Worilds was a "primary target" for the Eagles in free agency. Caplan's report also seems to suggest that Worilds was equally interested in coming to Philadelphia, which is interesting.
The problem for Worilds and the Eagles, however, was that the Steelers decided to designate Worilds with the transition tag. This meant that a team (the Eagles, in this case) would have to sign Worilds to an offer sheet and hope the Steelers didn't match it. The problem with going through with this is that the Eagles would have had a lot of money in limbo while they were waiting for the Steelers to make a decision on Worilds. Thus, no offer sheet was signed.
Worilds was one of the best 3-4 pass rushers available in a very thin 2013 free agent market. He's still only 26 and, per Pro Football Focus, Worilds led the NFL in quarterback hits in 2013 by recording 21. He also finished with 21 hurries and 8 sacks. Worilds recorded a total of 48 pressures in 362 pass rush snaps, which was the 8th best pass rushing productivity rate for all the 3-4 outside linebackers.
It's not exactly clear where Worilds would have fit in with the Eagles. Perhaps a Worilds signing would have meant that Trent Cole would no longer be on the team or he would relegated to a bench role. Perhaps it means the Eagles don't draft Marcus Smith II in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Perhaps Brandon Graham would have been traded by now. You could play the "What if?" all day with scenarios like these.
For now, Worilds is a Steeler and that's that. But in a way-too-early look ahead to next year's free agency period, Worilds will be a free agent again after the 2014 season The Eagles will have another chance at bringing him to Philadelphia, if there's still mutual intere$t.