Pittsburgh Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin was looking for defense in his very first draft back in 2007 and he found everything he could have wanted in Lawrence Timmons. The Florida State product would come to the Steel City and anchor one of the NFL’s best defenses.
Earlier today Timmons signed a two-year deal for $12 million including $11 million guaranteed to play for the Miami Dolphins. I have been told the Steelers offered somewhere in five million per year range but wouldn’t go higher and they weren’t going to give as much guaranteed money either.
The departure of Timmons likely means that Vince Williams becomes the ‘Robin’ to Ryan Shazier’s ‘Batman.’ The problem is that Williams is no more of a three down linebacker than is Timmons. Whether the Steelers will pursue an inside backer in the draft is uncertain but it wouldn’t be surprising. Free agency is also a possibility but the talent pool available isn’t all that great.
Seeing a guy leave who has played all ten years of his career in Pittsburgh isn’t easy. Timmons has been reliable and a trouble-free player. He has made memorable plays in big games and he leaves Pittsburgh with a Super Bowl ring and a ton of respect from the fan base.
If you’re wondering why this is happening it’s a fair question to ask. The bottom line is that it comes down to a combination of money and what Timmons can offer as a player. As I mentioned above, Timmons is no longer a guy who is a three-down linebacker.
While his zone coverage skills are still fairly adequate, his man-to-man skills are not. When he’s in trail coverage he’s really in trail coverage. What that means is that he just can’t keep up with receivers anymore and while he still is a force against the run, you can’t pay big money just for that.
Timmons will likely have a lot of tackles in Miami and maybe an interception or two which will lead to second guessing by Steelers’ fans. But this is the right move. The defense is already getting younger and it’s getting faster and at the price Timmons was demanding, his presence was no longer needed.
It’s not a popular move but then again the business of football isn’t about being popular.