Lawrence Timmons has been a mainstay at inside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers since the 2009 season, when the former Florida State standout took over the starting role for James Farrior alongside Larry Foote.
Since then, Timmons has started in 108 of the 110 games he’s appeared in, including five straight seasons without missing a single game.
During that stretch, he’s amassed 576 total tackles, 19.0 sacks and seven interceptions, exceeding expectations for the former No. 15 overall pick in 2007.
Heading into his 10th season in the league, Timmons is in the last year of his contract with the Steelers, which opens up a lot of questions for his future with the team, especially after having just turned 30 years old, May 14.
Many expected Timmons’ deal to be extended, keeping him with the franchise long-term, but that hasn’t happened to this point, and likely won’t happen at all.
So that raises the question of what the future holds for him with the Steelers organization beyond 2016.
It’s quite clear that Timmons can still produce at a high level week-after-week, serving as a catalyst for an improving front seven.
However, the Steelers have a long history of not re-signing their own free agents who are over the age of 30. Should Timmons receive a new deal after this season from the franchise, it would be breaking a trend.
It’s hard to say Timmons is on the wrong side of 30 years old when looking at him, but that’s the cold, hard truth. That’s not to say that we should expect an immediate decline in his game, but he’s getting closer to the end of his career.
Should the Steelers decline to extend/renew Timmons, they’d likely have to address the position early in the draft where guys like Alabama’s Reuben Foster, LSU’s Kendell Beckwith and Illinois’ Hardy Nickerson raise some eyebrows, or they’d have to explore the free agent market for a starter at the position, much like they did when signing Farrior back in 2002.
However, the free agent market at inside linebacker isn’t promising behind him. Guys like Dallas’ Rolando McClain, Denver’s Brandon Marshall and Arizona’s Kevin Minter could be possible fits, but again, the Steelers don’t have a great history at being proactive early in free agency when searching for starters.
The best bet for the Steelers would be to extend Timmons for three or four years at a reasonable price before then addressing the position early in the draft again, much like they did when drafting him in 2007 and Ryan Shazier in 2014.
If Timmons continues to play at a high level like he has been over the last 5-6 years, it should be a no-brainer what the Steelers should — and likely will — do with the leader of the defense.