If you are unfamiliar with the website www.spotrac.com , it’s worth checking out. It’s a website that tracks the contracts of all the four major sports teams. It’s a useful tool when trying to figure out the status of players contacts, especially in the NFL where signing bonuses and dead cap charges can be really complicated. They’ve now developed a market value tab for upcoming free agents comparing players of similar age, position, etc. While no site can predict with 100 percent accuracy what players will actually sign for, it does provide a general guide on what to expect. Which brings us to impending free agent linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Spotrac has Timmons value at $6.2 million a year for three years.
Timmons is coming off a great second half to the 2016 season, and is possibly the Steelers most reliable linebacker. He once again lead the team in tackles with a total of 114. It is the seventh time in the last eight years Timmons has had more then 100 tackles in a season. Tack on 2.5 sacks and 2 interceptions, and it’s easy to why the rumors of the Steelers wanting him back in 2017.
It’s not all upside when looking at resigning the 10 year veteran. Timmons is 30 years old with a ton of miles on his body. His durability has never been a question having only missed two games in his nine years as a starter. That kind of usage has to eventually take it’s toll at some point given how much football his body has endured. Then there’s the question of the role of the buck linebacker in today’s football. Specialization has become the norm in the NFL, and the Steelers may be looking for a quicker linebacker in passing situations. Opposing teams often looked to expose Timmons in coverage. It’s a situation where if he were to be resigned, Timmons may be a one or two down player at best. That being the case, it’s hard to justify allocating over 6 million in cap space to a part time player. The argument could be made that Vince Williams could fill that role at a fraction of the cost.
Even if Pittsburgh could get Timmons to sign a team friendly deal at 4 or 5 million per season it may not be worth it. The team will not have much cap space left after resigning players like Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell among others. The roughly eight million they would have left would be better served on a veteran corner or more importantly a reliable pass rusher. Lawrence Timmons has been a great inside linebacker for the Steelers over the years, but it’s time to move on. The combination of age and his position becoming less relevant have made it unrealistic to spend any kind of real money on him. Taking emotion out of the equation, the smart thing to do would be to use the cap space elsewhere.