The Steeelers signed inside linebacker Vince Williams to a 3 year deal today, and the ramifications could be huge. Williams is the back up to long time standout Lawrence Timmons, who coincidentally is in the last year of his contract. This announcement seals Timmons fate as far as his future as a Steeler….there isn’t any. What comes as a result of this could be very interesting.
Pittsburgh could be trying to trade Timmons, given their depth at inside linebacker. The Steelers go seven deep at that position if you include camp standout Tyler Matakevich. There are certainly teams out there that could use a veteran linebacker. Teams like the Redskins, and the Buffalo Bills have had significant injuries to their linebackers already this preseason. The Steelers could expect to get at mid round draft pick in exchange for Timmons.
If Pittsburgh does choose to move on from Timmons through a trade or even an outright release, they stand to gain a good deal of cap room. Timmons is set to count nearly 15 million against the salary cap in this his final year under contract. Moving on from him would save the Steelers around 6 million against the cap. Pittsburgh could use that money to trade for a veteran player that could help them this season. They could also use that cap space to sign one of their own players to a new deal. A certain Pro-Bowl wide receiver comes to mind.
Of course the Steelers could just let this season ride out as is, and let Timmons walk after this season. The situation will be awkward at best though. Knowing your team has essentially moved on from you can’t sit well with him. Lawrence Timmons has always been the consummate professional, so don’t expect to hear much griping about the situation. Whatever the Steelers decide to do, it’s clear they have devalued the buck inside linebacker position. We see more and more nickel defense where the second inside linebacker is not on the field. Having a high payed player for this position just doesn’t make sense any more. It’s a new era unfolding for the Steelers defense, and Timmons is the first big casualty from it.