At the start of the offseason, it was a move many of us assumed was a given. The Pittsburgh Steelers would extend Lawrence Timmons’ contact, lowering his 2016 cap hit and keeping him around for an extra two years.
But as the Trib’s Mark Kaboly reports, the two sides are “not close” in getting a deal done. From his article.
“Timmons and the Steelers have engaged in contract discussions but are “not close” to an agreement, according to industry sources.”
Timmons is owed a base salary of $8.75 million and because the team has previously restructured his contract, his cap hit has ballooned up to $15.1 million. It’s the third highest inside linebacker contract according to Over The Cap.
The veteran linebacker has been as steady as anyone on this defense for years not only in talent but availability, starting every game for the last five seasons. That even meant fighting through a nasty turf toe injury that crept up at the end of training camp last year. He still finished the year with 119 tackles, 5 sacks, and an interception. He was the last defensive player in the league to miss a snap.
Towards the end of the season, the team began removing him from the field on 3rd and long, opting to use Robert Golden in their dime package. It’s unclear if the team is committed to doing that more in 2016 but with the selection of Sean Davis and the popularity of teams using six DBs, it’s certainly possible.
Timmons isn’t the only inside linebacker on this roster entering the final year of his contract. Vince Williams is in the last year of his rookie deal. It may came down to the team choosing between one of the two. Either re-sign Timmons for one last go-around and Williams walks to find starter work or bring Williams back as Timmons’ replacement. It will be one of the most important questions of this upcoming offseason and the way the Steelers handle Timmons this year should give us a clue to their answer.