Only one Steeler – quarterback Ben Roethlisberger – has a higher 2016 cap number than linebacker Lawrence Timmons, whose contract will need to be addressed by the team after this season. As Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes, Timmons is hoping that means signing an extension to remain in Pittsburgh.
“I hope so, I love it here,” Timmons said, addressing the possibility of getting a new deal and potentially finishing his career as a Steeler. “I can’t see myself being anywhere else.”
Until this year, Timmons’ $9.5MM+ annual average salary made him the NFL’s highest-paid inside linebacker. Luke Kuechly of the Panthers and Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks each signed new deals earlier in 2015 that surpassed that figure, but – having reworked his contract in September – Timmons projects to have a significantly higher cap hit than any other inside linebacker in 2016, at $15.131MM.
When I examined the Steelers’ 2016 cap outlook, I identified Timmons as a potential candidate to be released, or at least to accept a pay cut. While noting that an extension was another viable possibility to reduce his ’16 cap charge, I pointed out that Pittsburgh could create $8.75MM in cap savings by cutting Timmons, whose play this year hasn’t quite been up to his usual standards.
After earning his first Pro Bowl nod a year ago, the 29-year-old has spent more time in pass coverage this year under new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, and has struggled in his modified role. Pro Football Focus currently ranks Timmons 88th out of 91 qualified linebackers, despite his strong grade as a pass rusher, but the veteran defender is hopeful that his willingness to do whatever he’s asked on D will extend his stay with the Steelers.
“I am a guy who is willing to do whatever,” Timmons said. “They still rush me, too, so I am not complaining. The more you can do, like [head coach Mike] Tomlin said, will keep you around here longer. I am trying to be around here for a while.”