Free agency can be a tricky beast for teams to handle. Yes, it can help a team fill a void and improve the odds of success in the coming season. But it can also open the door for players to leave and create new voids to fill.
So far, since free agency began last week, the Steelers haven’t lost anyone important. But that appears to no longer be the case. Longtime inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has signed a two-year, $12 million contract ($11 million guaranteed) with the Miami Dolphins.
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) March 12, 2017
The Steelers didn’t necessarily want him to leave. He had been a key member of the team’s defense for years. But he will be 31 before the 2017 season starts. The team is in the midst of a youth movement on defense. Guys over 30 don’t exactly fit in when you’re doing that.
They think they have someone that can step in and contribute in Vince Williams. It was evident the team was beginning to consider making a move last year when they extended Williams. But they were probably hoping for more of a letdown from Timmons so they could justify cutting him loose.
There was a letdown—technically. In 2015, Timmons recorded 119 tackles (77 solo, 42 assisted). Last season his numbers dipped a little (114 tackles; 78 solo and 36 assisted).
With five consecutive seasons with 100+ tackles, he clearly deserved to make as much as he had been earning or at least close to it. However, when push came to shove, the Steelers were not willing to guarantee Timmons $11 million.
Miami was—so Miami got him.