As the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to prepare for their 2016 season, two of their primary inside linebackers are currently in the final years of their contracts. Veteran Lawrence Timmons is one of those two players and the other one is former sixth-round draft pick Vince Williams.
Expectedly, Timmons has said several times over the course of the offseason that he hopes to end his career right where it started in Pittsburgh and we’ll have to wait and see if he is ultimately signed to an extension between now and the start of the regular season. As for Williams, while he also undoubtedly would like to continue his career in Pittsburgh, he’s not currently focused on his contract situation right now.
“I don’t really think about it – every year is contract year,” Williams said, according to Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You can be cut at any moment, what’s a contract really mean? I mean, you get your signing bonus, after that, everybody’s fair game. You have to come in and establish yourself and prove your worth every year.”
Williams, who is set to earn $675,000 in 2016, played 192 total defensive snaps during the 2015 regular season as he and former Steelers linebacker Sean Spence both platooned alongside Timmons when the team’s other starter, Ryan Shazier, missed multiple games due to injuries. Additionally, Williams has proven over the years to be a commodity on special teams and his 303 snaps last year in that phase of the game was the second-highest on the team behind safety Robert Golden.
At 26 years of age, Williams now finds himself as one of the more experienced players on the Steelers depth chart.
“I’m an ‘old guy’ now,” he said. “I feel like an old guy, at least. I have been here long enough. I know everything, I feel like. I’ve been around Coach Buts and Coach Tomlin for so long, I know exactly what they’re looking for in practice; every drill and every rep.”
If things go like we think they might during the 2016 season, the Steelers figure to pull Timmons off the field quite a bit in their sub packages in lieu of an extra defensive back. Assuming both he and Shazier stay healthy, Williams will likely be hard-pressed to receive much playing time as a result. Should, however, injuries strike-down one of the two starters, Williams figures to be the next man up.
In an interview last week, team president Art Rooney II hinted that multiple players could receive contract extensions between now and the start of the regular season. While Williams might not ultimately be one of those players, there’s still a chance the team could re-sign him prior to the start of free agency next year and especially if Timmons isn’t re-signed in the coming weeks.
During his first three years in the league, Williams, who like Timmons played his college football at Florida State, has recorded 142 total tackles and a half a sack during regular-season play. While he might only be considered a role player, he’s proven to be a damn good one so far during his young career.