According to the Miami Herald, courtesy of Armando Salguero, the Miami Dolphins intend to release inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. The Dolphins signed the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker in free agency last season on a two-year, $12 million contract, of which it was reported that $11 million was guaranteed at signing, though Salguero is reporting that Timmons is being released as a cap casualty prior to the beginning of free agency.
According to Over the Cap, Timmons has a base salary in 2018 of $5.45 million, with a $25,000 workout bonus due, and they can recoup that combined amount with his release. He will count $2.75 million against the cap in dead money stemming form his initial signing bonus of $5.5 million.
Edit: As Ian Whetstone clarified to me, Timmons’ suspension by the Dolphins in 2017 negated a partial guarantee of his salary in 2018. $4.5 million of his $5.45 million base salary for this upcoming season was guaranteed at signing, but that was voided following his suspension, which now allows the team to release him and recoup the full value of that base salary charge, plus his workout bonus.
Timmons was the first draft pick of the Mike Tomlin era in Pittsburgh, their first-round choice in 2007. He became a full-time starter in 2009 and was a mainstay in the lineup, hardly ever coming off the field, through the 2016 season. He missed a couple of games due to injury early in 2009, but went on to start over 100 consecutive games. He was named to the Pro Bowl, and was second-team All-Pro, in 2014.
Given that the Steelers are not expected to have Ryan Shazier this season, while he vows to return to the field someday, the release of Timmons could certainly be of interest to the team, as they are now in the market for a starting mack linebacker. Timmons was the starting mack linebacker from 2009 until 2014 when Shazier was drafted, and then moved to the buck position.
If the Steelers were to re-sign him, he would likely take over that spot, barring any other changes, while working with Vince Williams. Timmons and Williams did start or play in a number of games together from 2013 through 2016 due to Shazier’s injuries, so they have experience working together.
The news that the Dolphins, who have salary cap concerns, intend to release the soon-to-be 32-year-old should not come as a great surprise. He went AWOL early in the season for the Dolphins and the team suspended him indefinitely, though reinstated him after a game.
He went on to play in and start 14 games for Miami last season, recording 84 tackles and three passes defensed.
During his 10-year career in Pittsburgh, Timmons recorded 651 tackles to go along with 35.5 sacks, 12 interceptions, and 13 forced fumbles, with one defensive touchdown. Should the Steelers look to sign him, however, that would in no way hinder them from drafting an inside linebacker during the 2018 NFL Draft, as early as the first round.