With Lawrence Timmons' departure, Vince Williams the next man up for the Steelers
March 10, 2017 3:05 PM
Lawrence Timmons reportedly signed a $12-million deal with Miami.
Steelers linebacker Vince Williams (top) helps tackle Orson Charles of the Detroit Lions during an Aug. 12 preseason game at Heinz Field.
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The departure of linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins Friday paves the way for Vince Williams to move into a starting job he held for 11 games as a rookie in 2013.
The Steelers saw this coming when they signed Williams to a three-year, $5.5 million contract in August as Timmons entered the final year of his deal with no extension forthcoming.
Timmons was an ironman and playmaker for the Steelers for most of his 10 seasons with them. But they no longer felt they could afford the luxury of paying him the kind of money he commanded from Miami — two years, $12 million with $11 million of that guaranteed.
He turns 31 in May. Williams is 27 and will partner inside with Ryan Shazier, 25. Timmons earned a salary of $8,750,000 last season when his cap number was $15 million, mainly because the Steelers kept redoing his contract to create cap room and push the accounting into the future. His final contract with the Steelers was for $47.8 million over five seasons.
His departure leaves the Steelers with just one starter on defense left from their last visit to the Super Bowl seven years ago — linebacker James Harrison. They now have only four players who won a Super Bowl with them — Harrison, Ben Roethlisberger, William Gay and Greg Warren.
Williams will play the buck linebacker position and Shazier the mack. The buck plays more around the line of scrimmage, stopping the run, and the mack has more varied responsibilities, including coverage.
Williams played that spot well last season while Shazier was out with a knee injury. He started four consecutive games and helped lead the defense in a victory over Kansas City in the fourth game of the season when he had 13 solo tackles, 15 total and a sack.
A sixth-round draft pick from Florida State, Williams was thrust into the starting lineup for 11 games as a rookie in 2013 because of an injury to Larry Foote. He only started three games over the next two seasons, but the Steelers realized his value when they signed him to a new deal in August.
Timmons was as versatile as he was indestructible. He played both inside linebacker spots for the team — often bouncing between the two during games — and outside linebacker in an emergency.
He became Tomlin’s first draft pick after he took over as coach in 2007, but Timmons not move into the starting lineup until his third season after being stuck behind Foote and James Farrior.
Once he did start, he never left. He missed only two games his entire career, both in 2009. He departs having played in 120 consecutive regular-season games and making 101 consecutive starts. He also started 10 post-season games in a row and played in all 14 since 2007.
Timmons made just one Pro Bowl, for the 2014 season, but played at a high level in a Steelers defense that ranked at or near the top of the NFL for much of his career with them.
He is only the fourth Steelers linebacker since sacks became an official statistic in 1982 to have 30 sacks and 10 interceptions; he finished with 35.5 and 12 respectively.
The Steelers re-signed backup inside linebacker Steven Johnson before the start of free agency.
Busy despite no signings
The Steelers signed no one Friday on the second day of free agency as Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert hit the road for Auburn’s pro day. They could have a busy weekend — for them — with some players scheduled to visit.
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