Player: Lawrence Timmons
Position: Inside Linebacker
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2016 Salary Cap Hit: $15,131,250
2016 Season Breakdown:
The cap hit no doubt looks absurd, but more studious observers of the salary cap understand that Lawrence Timmons wasn’t actually getting $15 million to play during the 2016 season. He did get close to $9 million, however, in base salary, which I believe was the highest base salary during his contract.
The reason that he had such a high cap hit, just to reiterate the point, is because the team restructured his deal multiple times in order to earn lower cap hits in previous seasons when they needed it. He had a cap hit of under $4 million in 2012, and under $6 million in 2013. That is why the cap hits got bloated at the end of the deal.
Moving on, however, we review Timmons’ 2016 season, during which he started off slow but picked up as the season went along, which has not exactly been an uncommon trend over the course of his career. That is not a means of justifying it, but it does point out a pattern, and I really don’t think there’s a path toward correcting that.
As is pretty much annually the case, Timmons hardly came off the field and led the Steelers in tackles. including the playoffs, he also recorded or split five sacks, intercepted two passes while recording five more passes defensed, and forced a fumble to boot.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there is a correlation between Timmons playing well and Ryan Shazier being on the same page with him. There have been some growing pains between the duo over the span of the past three years, but they have worked well together lately.
Timmons is still a playmaker as a downhill player against the run, and offers a pass-rush ability that some believed were starting to fade. He is missing too many tackles and has lost a half a step in coverage, but the issues have not been as dire as has been made out at times.
Free Agency Outlook:
Yet that doesn’t guarantee that he will be back with the Steelers. It was earlier reported by the never-reliable Jason LaCanfora that contract negotiations were already underway, but Kevin Colbert’s comments yesterday indicated that the only deal being worked on right now was with Antonio Brown.
Colbert even said at one point something to the effect that Timmons is going to have to figure out what his market is, which suggests that they will allow him to test the free agent waters, though he also said that they would like to keep him essentially if the money is right.
I am not as confident as I was just a day ago that the Steelers and Timmons will work out another deal. It’s more than reasonable that he might find a better opportunity on the open market, and as much as he loves the Steelers, it would be difficult to pass up. Still, I ultimately do believe a deal will be done.