The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Who will be the Steelers’ starter at the buck inside linebacker spot in 2017?
This is a straightforward question, and the path to answering is seems pretty straightforward as well—either A or B. if the Steelers re-sign Lawrence Timmons, it will be with the intention of maintaining him in the starting lineup, a position that he has held for the past eight seasons. If they do not, it would figure that they are prepared to move on into 2017 with veteran reserve Vince Williams in a starting role.
Of course, there are always possibilities outside of the most likely, and if you really feel that somebody other than Timmons or Williams will be starting next to Ryan Shazier in 2017, please feel free to let all the rest of us on to your clairvoyance.
Timmons had a fairly typical Timmons-like season at this point of his career, comfortably clearing the 100-tackle mark while chipping in a few sacks and a few turnovers. There is no doubt that he is losing a step and has had some tackling efficiency issues to clean up, but I think the majority opinion is that he can still be a starter.
And yet there may well be as many people here who believe that Williams can be a starter as well, and, to his credit, when he has gotten the opportunity to start, he has played well. He started four games in place of Shazier last season and recorded 35 tackles and two sacks over that span.
While he has gotten cameo work on defense over the course of the season, the bulk of his responsibilities come on special teams, where he has cemented himself as one of the unit’s core players and tone setters. He plays the role as though he relishes it, much to the chagrin of many a less-enthused opponent who just wants to get back on the bench.
There were reports that the Steelers were already working on a contract with Timmons that appear to have been inaccurate, given the general manager’s comments. It seems that he will be given a chance to test free agency. The Steelers extended Williams for two more years last season. That is the table that has been set for the 2017 offseason.