Will Steelers Restructure Or Extend Lawrence Timmons’ Contract?


After the Steelers extended quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to his new five year deal, the talk of who is next in line quickly shifted to the front of the 3-4 defense in Cameron Heyward.

Heyward is one of the numerous younger players who are just about ready to finish out their rookie deal. Kelvin Beachum is another player on the roster the Steelers might look to lock in sooner than later.

But what about ILB Lawrence Timmons.

The 29 year old spoke with ESPN and said that is more than willing to rework a deal to get his salary cap down. The Steelers ‘buck’ linebacker is due base salaries of $7.5 million in 2015 and $8.75 million in 2016, but he will count against the cap at $12.6 million and $11.8 million in those same years.

That’s the second highest on the team only to Big Ben.

Timmons said that he and the team have yet to come to the table to rework a deal. Well, consider this LT’s ‘invitation’ to the table, Kevin Colbert. It’s a calculated move by the Pro Bowl ILB – the man wants a deal before he hits 30.

Timmons wants two things out of this – to continue getting paid what he is well deserved and to keep that amount reasonable enough so he can stay in Pittsburgh and not become a salary cap casualty.

So, what’s the smatter move by either side? Restructure the current deal to defer the cap hit, or sign a brand new extension that wipes out the last two years and rewrites them with lower cap hits?

I would not be surprised if the Steelers and Timmons came to terms on a new deal this summer and skipped the restructuring process.

Firstly, restructuring only ‘defers the debt.’ That means they can only move so much money from this year to next year since Timmons only has two years left on his $50 million 2011 deal.  That will only help the team this year, but not next year.

However, those immediate savings this season could be the money they need to re-sign Cameron Heyward to a long term deal. The Steelers front office could also gamble on that restructure in 2015 and re-sign him in the offseason in 2016 and wipe out the cap hit the restructure would impose on the team.

Not that bad of an idea, but the gamble there is that if Timmons continues his climb to his ceiling, then his price tag will only go up – even if he really wants to stay in Pittsburgh.

Dec 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons (94) takes the field during player introductions against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

He may be sentimental in his young age, but he’s also not stupid.

I think the smart thing to do with Timmons would be to sign him to another five year deal that gives him a bunch of guaranteed money upfront and early on in the life of the contract. That deal would wipe out the current 2015 and 2016 years and keep him on the team through 2019 – when he will be 33 years old.

That’s a good time for the Steelers to move into a holding pattern with Timmons and assess how much he is worth at that age. Remember, the new philosophy of this defense is to stay young and stay fast.  33 isn’t so fast anymore.

And to be honest, putting way more money up front in 2015 and 2016 should make the dead money hit that much less of a burden were they to decide to part ways before then contract is up.

This is a business after all.

My hope is that the Steelers can squeeze in a new deal with Timmons. I think if they want any realistic chance of locking in players like Cam Heyward and sign contracts of a few more out there, then they are going to need to make numerous deals with players nearing the end of their contracts or restructuring some of the longer deals out there.

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