“Follow the money” implored “Deep Throat” the inside source of the Watergate scandal.
If you want to know what the Pittsburgh Steelers see as the strength of their team, look at where they put their money.
- James Farrior signed for five years and 18.25 million dollars in 2008
- James Harrison signed for 6 years and 51 million dollars in 2010
- LaMarr Woodley signed for 6 years and 61.5 million dollars earlier this month
And today the Steelers announced that they’d signed Lawrence Timmons, starting inside linebacker, and the first pick of the Mike Tomlin era for six years and a cool 60 million dollars, including 18 in bonuses.
For those of you keeping track at home, that averages out to about a quarter of the 120 million dollar salary cap paid out to the starting linebacking corps.
The Right Move
As a rookie Lawrence Timmons had difficulty getting on the field due to some nagging injuries. Although he failed to break the starting line up in his sophomore season, he nonetheless made his share of “Splash plays” – his work in relief of James Harrison in the Washington game sticks out.
Timmons graduation to the starting line up in 2009 fell below expectations, but who didn’t fall short of expectations in 2009?
But in 2010 Lawrence Timmons came into his own.
While James Harrison and Troy Polamalu (rightly) filled the highlight reels for their eye popping plays against Tennessee, Timmons was flying around and seemingly in on every play and played a key role in shutting down Chris Johnson.
The Steelers defense played one of the best games in its history that hot and humid day against Tennessee, and the game also served as a metaphor for Timmon’s season. Guys like Harrison, Polamalu, and Woodley got most of the accolades, but Timmons led the team in tackles.
Locking Timmons up for six more years is the right move.
The Right Move II
In reporting Timmons signing, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Ed Bouchette concludes that the Steelers have finished with their signings for the year. (The Steelers have had a contract negotiation black out since 1993.)
That means that Troy Polamalu and Mike Wallace, both in the final years of their contracts, will have to wait.
That too is wise on the part of the Steelers braintrust.
For as strongly as Steel Curtain Rising defended Troy Polamalu against the “overrated” charge this past summer, the truth is that Polamalu has missed games because of injury in four of the past five years, and he’s finished the functional equivalent of two of those in IR.
Make no mistake about it, the Steelers defense cannot be great without Troy Polamalu, and it would be a tragedy should wear any other uniform before beginning his “life’s work.” But the Steelers will have the option to franchise him at season’s end, and after making an honest assessment as to how much Polamalu has left in the tank.
Mike Wallace will be a restricted free agent next spring. The Steelers do run the risk that some other team will make an inane offer that they cannot match, but it is a risk worth taking.