“I appreciate all of the interest from the organizations that have reached out to us the past few days,” the statement reads. “With that being said, after much thought & consideration I have chosen to step away from football as I have opted to pursue other interests.”
The decision comes as an absolute bombshell, as the 27-year old veteran was set to cash in on a contract which would’ve likely paid him close to $8 million annually and close to $15-20 million guaranteed based on contracts awarded to his colleagues.
Worilds led the Steelers with 7.5 sacks last season and despite the team expressing confidence in his abilities and even stating they hoped to retain him, the organization allowed the former second round pick to test the open market in free agency.
Surprisingly, Worilds didn’t receive too much attention on day one of free agency Tuesday, as no formal offers were said to have crossed his path, despite Worilds’ consideration as one of the league’s most coveted free agents available on the open market. In fact, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Worilds secured a multi-year contract considering players such as Pernell McPhee and Brandon Graham had signed contracts while Brian Orakpo and Jabaal Sheard were rumored to have several suitors.
Worilds is the third unlikely player in the last 48 hours to announce a shocking retirement. Five-time All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis announced his retirement Monday and former first round draft pick Jake Locker followed Willis’ announcement with one of his own on Tuesday, declaring he no longer had “the same desire for the game.”
At 27, Worilds still had plenty of football left in him, making the announcement all the more curious. If he changes his mind in the next few weeks, or even years, someone will still likely take a chance on him. But, the decision will likely come as a surprise to Steelers fans who figured their Wildcard loss to Baltimore was the last time they would see Worilds’ in black and gold. Instead, they apparently won’t be seeing him in any colors at all.
This move also complicates the Steelers’ immediate future, especially if they were hoping to bring Worlds back if he slipped through the cracks in free agency, however unlikely an outcome that would’ve been. Now, the team will have to look elsewhere to fill their still glaring hole at outside linebacker.
Whatever Worilds’ “other interests” are, he must be secure in these endeavors as he will leave millions of dollars on the table.