Lawrence Timmons

Steelers Notes: Brown, Bell, Timmons, Jones

The Steelers have a number of to-do items on their offseason docket, and today general manager Kevin Colbert addressed the media with a focus on what Pittsburgh plans on doing over the next few months. Let’s take a look at the highlights from Colbert’s press conference, courtesy of Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

  • Stating that he wants both wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell to remain Steelers for life, Colbert said the club has opened extension talks with Brown, the only player with whom Pittsburgh has discussed a new deal, according to Dulac. Brown is signed through 2017 with a cap charge of roughly $13.6MM, while Bell is an unrestricted free agent but will likely be retained via the franchise tag. Colbert specifically called reaching a new contract with Brown an offseason “priority,” although a recent report indicated that talks between the two sides will move slowly.
  • Re-signing veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons could also be in the cards for the Steelers, but negotiations with Timmons won’t be as cut-and-dry as talks with Brown and Bell. “Would you like to have him stay? Absolutely,” Colbert said. “Does it all fit? We can make it work, but at what cost? He’s never been a free agent. I’d like to see him finish his career here and he would too.” Timmons, 30, has spent a decade in Pittsburgh, and is coming off a 78-tackle, 2.5-sack season.
  • The Steelers aren’t counting on former second-round cornerback Senquez Golson, who has missed his first two seasons in the NFL with injury, for anything more than potential depth. “I’m a little more apprehensive,” said Colbert. “Just from sitting out two years, where you haven’t played at all, it’s not real easy to just step out there and catch up.” As such, Colbert said Pittsburgh could consider selecting a cornerback in this year’s draft.
  • Because Golson is a question mark, the Steelers could be open to re-signing cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was released last week, tweets Dulac. Gilbert has become a massive draft bust since being selected eighth overall in 2014, and played only 11 defensive snaps last season. He’s still just 25 years old, however, and would make for an interesting (if uninspiring) depth peice.
  • Despite reports of a possible retirement, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return in 2017, and the Steelers hope to re-sign backup signal-caller Landry Jones, as well, as Dulac writes. “We’d like to have Landry stay in the mix,” Colbert said. “Will we add a guy? Absolutely. When? It’s hard to say. Sooner or later we will have to address that.” If Pittsburgh doesn’t view Jones as the long-term replacement for Roethlisberger, the club could look to draft a QB at some point.

AFC Notes: Smith, Tyrod, Cutler, Steelers

Already under police investigation for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place last Saturday, Raiders pass rusher Aldon Smith is now on the NFL’s radar, writes Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “We are looking in to the matter,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told McDonald in an email Tuesday. Smith has been serving a substance abuse suspension since November 2015 and has a chance to gain reinstatement in March, but the league could push back its decision or even hand him an indefinite ban as a result of his latest off-field issue, per McDonald.

Elsewhere in the AFC…

  • If the Bills move on from quarterback Tyrod Taylor, they should sign soon-to-be released Bears signal-caller Jay Cutler to replace him, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com in a piece focusing on potential offseason moves in the AFC East. Tony Romo or Jimmy Garoppolo are more appealing choices, Barnwell acknowledges, but he doesn’t expect the former to sign in Buffalo (if the Cowboys cut him) or the Patriots to trade the latter within the division. If those two are unattainable, the draft could be an option, though Barnwell argues that the Bills shouldn’t reach for a QB with the 10th overall pick. That would leave Cutler as the most logical solution. Not only would he come on a short-term deal, but he’d reunite with new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison. Cutler played under Dennison in Denver and has spoken highly of him in the past.
  • Speaking of Taylor, the Browns’ hiring of his former quarterbacks coach, David Lee, increased the passer’s odds of ending up in Cleveland, contends Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. Taylor, who’s on the Browns’ “radar,” played under Lee in Buffalo the past two seasons and fared respectably in his first 29 games as a starter. The former Baltimore backup would replace Robert Griffin III, whom Cabot expects the Browns to release before his roster bonus is due March 11.
  • The Steelers’ contract talks with wide receiver Antonio Brown and linebacker Lawrence Timmons don’t figure to move quickly, tweets CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who expects running back Le’Veon Bell to be their biggest priority. Unlike Brown, who has another year on his deal, both Timmons and Bell could become free agents next month. Bell is clearly the more valuable of the two, of course, and the Steelers will place the franchise tag on the runner if they’re unable to re-sign him.

Steelers In Talks With Brown, Timmons

A report earlier this month stated that the Steelers and wide receiver Antonio Brown had already begun contract extension talks, but Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears that those discussions just began Monday. The Steelers have also opened dialogue with linebacker Lawrence Timmons, La Canfora adds (Twitter link).

Lawrence Timmons (vertical)

Unlike Brown, who has another year on his contract, the Steelers are in imminent danger of losing Timmons. The soon-to-be 31-year-old could depart the organization via free agency as early as next month, but Pittsburgh clearly wants to re-sign the longtime stalwart.

Timmons is fresh off his 10th NFL season, all of which have been spent in Pittsburgh, and continued to fill the stat sheet with 114 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble in his sixth straight 16-start season. Timmons, who hasn’t missed a game since 2009, also played 92.9 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps, though Pro Football Focus wasn’t impressed with his work. The site placed him just 70th in overall performance among 87 qualified linebackers.

On the other hand, there’s no arguing with Brown’s production. The 28-year-old is arguably the league’s top receiver, having earned his third consecutive first-team All-Pro nod in 2016. Brown has matched or exceeded 100 catches, 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past four seasons, and he could become the league’s highest-paid wideout as a result. He’s due to make $4.71MM salary and count $13.618MM against the Steelers’ cap in the final year of his contract in 2017, but there’s optimism he and the club will hammer out a new deal before training camp. Unsurprisingly, then, Pittsburgh has told rival teams that it’s not making Brown available via trade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Want To Re-Sign Lawrence Timmons

The Steelers have bigger fish to fry this offseason, but they have shown interest in re-signing linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.com writes. For his part, Timmons has said throughout the season that he hopes to remain in Pittsburgh. Lawrence Timmons (vertical)

[RELATED: Rival Clubs Asked About Antonio Brown Trade]

The Steelers have a host of important free agents this offseason and that list is headlined by Le’Veon Bell. The team is also looking to extend wide receiver Antonio Brown and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Once the team gets a handle on how much money needs to be allocated towards those deals, they’ll turn their attention to Timmons, a player who provides valuable veteran leadership in the front seven.

Timmons, 31 in May, played in 92% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2016 despite talk that he would be supplanted by Vince Williams. He started all 19 games for the Steelers (16 regular season games + three playoff games) and led the team with 114 tackles in the regular season. Timmons also added 4.5 sacks and two interceptions.

Timmons carried a $15MM+ cap number in 2016 after restructuring his pact multiple times. He won’t make the same kind of money on his next deal, but he could still get a nice payday on a multi-year deal that would allow him to retire in black and yellow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

No Extension For Steelers’ Lawrence Timmons

Linebacker Lawrence Timmons and the Steelers are not expected to get an extension done before kickoff tonight, a source tells ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (Twitter link). Per team policy, the Steelers shut down all negotiations with their players once the season starts, so Timmons will play out his walk year. Lawrence Timmons (vertical)

Timmons inked a $48MM contract with Pittsburgh in 2011 and he has restructured that deal three times since then. By moving those numbers around, the Steelers wound up with a $15.1MM cap hit for the linebacker this season. Timmons certainly had leverage for extension talks heading into this season, but the Steelers did not blink. Now, the 2007 first rounder could wind up wearing something other than a Steelers jersey for the first time in his NFL career.

Over the last nine seasons, Timmons has tallied 33 sacks including five last season. He also led the team with 119 tackles. Despite his age, Timmons could score a decent payday next spring if he has a strong showing in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Steelers’ Contract Negotiations

While Steelers cornerstones Le’Veon Bell, Lawrence Timmons and Markus Wheaton are all in contract years, the only free agent-to-be the team is negotiating an extension with is guard David DeCastro, reports Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Steelers and DeCastro were reportedly making progress in talks as of Wednesday, but Bouchette writes that a deal isn’t close. The deadline for an agreement is the start of the season, which leaves the two sides just over a month to find common ground.

The 26-year-old DeCastro has established himself as one of the core pieces of the Steelers’ offensive line since the team used a first-round pick on him in 2012. DeCastro has started all but one game over the the last three seasons, and he’s coming off a year in which he earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections for the first time. DeCastro, whom Pro Football Focus has graded as one of the league’s 20 best guards three years running, is on the Steelers’ books this season for $8.07MM. That’s the cost of the fifth-year option that was included in the 24th overall pick’s rookie deal.

Le'Veon Bell (vertical)

Considering the turbulent year Bell has endured, it’s not surprising that the Steelers aren’t negotiating with him. The star running back is currently preparing to appeal the four-game suspension the NFL handed him in July for a violation of its substance abuse policy. If Bell loses the appeal hearing, which is scheduled for Aug. 18, it’ll mark his second suspension since last season. Bell sat out two games then thanks to an arrest for marijuana possession and DUI, and he missed the final eight contests of the year after tearing his MCL and PCL on Nov. 1. It perhaps didn’t help Bell’s cause that the Steelers’ offense showed well without him, finishing with the eighth-best yards-per-carry average in the league.

Timmons, meanwhile, is about to conclude the $48MM contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2011. The Steelers have restructured that deal three times, leaving the 30-year-old with an unpalatable $15.1MM cap hit this season. A 2007 first-rounder, Timmons has spent his entire nine-year career in Pittsburgh – where he has racked up 33 sacks (five last season) – but 2016 could be his swan song with the Steelers.

Wheaton, 25, put up a whopping 17.0 yards per catch on 44 receptions and added five touchdowns in 2015. Previously, he amassed a career-high 53 grabs in 2014, though both his YPC (12.2) and TD total (two) were much less impressive. Wheaton is due to collect just over $1.67MM this year, but if he continues to post strong production, a significant raise will come – whether from Pittsburgh or someone else. The fact that Martavis Bryant will miss the entire season because of a suspension could lead to more opportunities and better numbers for Wheaton, who garnered a combined 166 targets over the previous two years.

Antonio Brown (vertical)

Unlike the aforementioned players, wideout Antonio Brown isn’t in a contract year, though the elite-caliber weapon would like a deal more in line with his production. After tying for the league lead in receptions (136), finishing second in yards (1,834) and scoring 10 times last season, Brown is slated to earn $6.25MM this year and $8.71MM in 2017. He’s just 18th among receivers in average annual value, but Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert isn’t about to rip his contract up in favor of a richer one.

As was the case last year, the Steelers could advance Brown $2MM of his salary for 2017, notes Bouchette. They would then have the option of awarding him a new contract after the season. Doing that would enable the Steelers to maintain their long-held policy of not negotiating new accords with players who have more than one year remaining on their deals. Quarterbacks are the only exception to that rule, and Ben Roethlisberger is already locked up through 2019.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers, Timmons Not Close On Extension

Lawrence Timmons and the Steelers have engaged in contract discussions but are “not close” to an agreement, according to industry sources who spoke with Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Timmons is entering the final year of a contract he signed with Pittsburgh in 2011. Lawrence Timmons

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Timmons’ $48MM deal was restructured three times (2012, 2013, and 2015), giving him a ludicrous cap hit of $15.1MM for this season. That number gives Timmons the second-highest cap hit on the team, trailing only Ben Roethlisberger‘s $24MM figure. Timmons, 30, has spent all nine of his NFL seasons with the Steelers, but 2016 could very well mark his tenth and final year in black and yellow. Per club policy, the Steelers are unlikely to talk contract with Timmons once the season starts on September 12, meaning that the two sides probably wouldn’t discuss a new deal until next year.

The Steelers currently have $4.29MM in cap room and a Timmons extension would give them additional breathing room. By the same token, the Steelers have understudy Vince Williams waiting in the wings, though Williams is also slated to hit the open market after the 2016 season.

Last year, Timmons led the Steelers with 119 tackles and was third on the team with five sacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Pats, Von, Steelers, Jets

Mike Klis of 9News obtained a report from a non-Broncos scout who observed linebacker Von Miller nine times last season and concluded that the 27-year-old is a “Hall of Fame-caliber performer.’’ Meanwhile, former Patriots general counsel/player personnel Jack Musa told Klis that the Pats – who are known for preemptively cutting bait on stars – would shop Miller if they were in a similar situation as Denver is now.

“I’m not saying not signing Von Miller is the wrong thing to do. I’m not saying that at all,” said Musa, who was with the Patriots for a decade. “But if you don’t and you’ve moved on from him, you certainly get something from him. You don’t have him sitting out a year and improving his own negotiating leverage – that’s not something we ever experienced in New England but that’s a very real possibility in Denver.’’

The Broncos and Miller are currently in a contract-related showdown, one which they’re running out of time to resolve. If the reigning Super Bowl champions and the franchise-tagged superstar don’t reach an agreement on a long-term deal by July 15 at 4 p.m. ET, they won’t be able to negotiate again until the offseason. That would leave Miller with two options: 1. Continue sitting out in lieu of signing the franchise tender. 2. Sign it and make in the $14MM neighborhood to play this year. If Miller opts for the first choice, the Broncos wouldn’t have the ability to slap the exclusive franchise tag on him next offseason, though they could give him the non-exclusive version. However, the compensation from a team that signs Miller to an offer sheet would decrease in value by a substantial amount, going from two first-round picks to a first- and third-round selection. The Broncos hit Miller with the exclusive designation this year to stop him from trying to hammer out an accord with another team.

Elsewhere around the AFC…

  • The Browns picked up quarterback Robert Griffin III in free agency and ex-Baylor receiver Corey Coleman via the first round of the draft, but they’re nonetheless “going to be a run-oriented football team,” run game coordinator Kirby Wilson told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. As Roster Resource shows, the Browns’ top two rushers from last season – Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson – remain in the equation, and three former undrafted free agents trail behind them. Given that trio’s lack of pedigree and the fact that neither Crowell nor Johnson eclipsed 3.8 yards per carry last season, it’s not exactly the most promising group on paper. Johnson, to his credit, caught 61 passes as a rookie, leading Wilson to call the 2015 third-rounder from Miami “an ultimate weapon.”
  • The five-year, $41.9MM deal – including $8.5MM guaranteed – all-world wide receiver Antonio Brown signed in 2012 is the most team-friendly contract the Steelers have, argues Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap. Brown was behind Mike Wallace on the Steelers’ wideout pecking order at the time, but the former has since combined for a stunning 375 receptions, 5,031 yards and 31 touchdowns going back to 2013. Although Pittsburgh took a risk at the time, it now has the biggest veteran bargain in the league, Fitzgerald opines. Conversely, linebacker Lawrence Timmons‘ contract (five years, $47.8MM, $11MM guaranteed) is the Steelers’ worst. While Fitzgerald doesn’t have a problem with the value, he’s critical of the way the Steelers have handled the pact. The club has restructured it three times in a four-year span, effectively guaranteeing four of its five seasons and leaving Timmons without an incentive to accept an extension and lower his cap number – which is the most among inside linebackers this season by over $5MM.
  • Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey could have a harder time dividing touches between his top two running backs this year than he did in 2015, posits Brian Costello of the New York Post. Last season’s Jets prominently featured the duo of bruiser Chris Ivory and dual-threat option Bilal Powell, but the former is now in Jacksonville. The Jets replaced him with Matt Forte, who – like Powell – can do damage both as a rusher and pass catcher. Regardless, Costello argues that New York has a valuable player on its hands in the 27-year-old Powell, without whom it went 1-4 in 2015. As a result of his 11-game, 701-total yard, 47-catch season, the Jets re-signed Powell to a three-year, $11.25MM deal with $6MM in guarantees over the winter. Forte landed a somewhat similar contract at three years, $12MM and $8MM guaranteed.

AFC Notes: Timmons, Lynch, Pitta, Colts

At more than $15MM, Lawrence Timmons‘ 2016 cap charge is the second-largest on the Steelers, yet the club hasn’t sought to extend the veteran linebacker (thus lowering that cap hit), as Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune writes. The Steelers have restructured quite a few contracts in recent years as more cap space was needed, but it seems like the team is trying to stave off such moves for the time being. As such, Timmons could be on his way to unrestricted free agency in March, and the 30-year-old needs to produce better results in his platform year — he graded among the 10 worst linebackers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

  • The Broncos have signed every member of their 2016 draft class except for first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch, and that deal might be taking a little longer because Lynch has a chance to become the team’s starter this year, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com details. It’s not entirely clear what contractual hurdles Legwold might be referring to, as rookie deals, especially those for first-round picks, are essentially slotted values. Denver and Lynch could be haggling over offset language, however, with Lynch’s camp pressing for the ability to “double dip” were he to be released in the next few years.
  • Dennis Pitta plans to continue his career in 2016 after two devastating hip injuries, and the veteran Ravens tight end isn’t lacking for confidence as he begins his comeback. “My expectations haven’t changed from four years ago, to two years ago, to now,” Pitta told Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com. “My level of expectation is extremely high going into this year. Like I said, I feel confident in how I can run, how I can move, how I can play and it’s just a matter of getting those reps back to where I’m confident in doing all of that.”
  • The Colts selected safety T.J. Green in the second round of last month’s draft with an eye towards the future, as incumbent safety Mike Adams is 35 years old and entering the final year of his contract, Kevin Bowen of Colts.com writes. Fellow defensive back Clayton Geathers — picked up in the fourth round of the 2015 draft — is the example for Green, per Bowen, as he is ready to be plugged into the starting rotation now that Dwight Lowery has moved on via free agency.
  • Former Colts linebacker Jonathan Newsome has signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, as Newsome himself tweeted earlier today. Newsome, 25, was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 draft, and appeared in 30 games with the Colts over the past two seasons.

Lawrence Timmons Hoping For Extension

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.”