Editor’s Note: This article ran and April Fools Day special in 2015. Click here for news on Lawrence Timmons’ free agent defection to the Miami Dolphins.
In a move that is as uncharacteristic as it is bold, the Pittsburgh Steelers are trading standout inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the Dolphin’s first round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Although complete details of the trade have yet to emerge, reports indicate that the Steelers will send Timmons to Miami along with their first round pick in 2015 and their 3rd round pick in 2016 in exchange for Miami’s 2015 1st round pick and a conditional 4th or 5th round pick in 2016.
Lawrence Timmons was not available for comment, although sources close to the inside linebacker described him as “shocked.” While he did not address the press, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin issued the following statement:
Lawrence Timmons was the first player drafted under my tenure so it is been a little extra special to see him grow and develop on a daily basis. Since then he’s earned my utmost respect both as a player and as a person. When you consider what he’s put on tape, we obviously did not make the decision to move on lightly. But we live in our hopes not in our fears, and Vince, Sean and Ryan now have their own record on tape, we’re obviously more than confident about how we stand at the inside linebacker position. Obviously we’re excited at the doors we open with this trade. I wish Lawrence nothing but the best in Miami.
Veterans with large contracts to be traded, but Miami has ample cap space with the 12th most in the league, per Over the Cap. Timmons however, has arguably been the Steelers most consistent if not its best defender for the past 3 seasons, leading to speculation as to why Pittsburgh would part ways with Mr. Dependable.
Steelers Bracing for Ben Roethlisberger’s Salary Cap Hit?
When asked about the Steelers trading Lawrence Timmons, ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kipper Jr. explained, “This is a shocking move, but a bold move. The Steelers have 4 starter-capable inside linebackers, they’ve got a huge cap it coming with Ben Roethlisberger, and they’re desperate at outside linebacker and corner. Getting the 14th pick from Miami gives Pittsburgh a number of prospects at either position. I think this is a shrewd deal on Kevin Colbert’s part.”
Prior to announcing this trade, the Steelers biggest move this off season was to resign starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Both Art Rooney II and Roethlisberger described the move as “win-win.”
- Yet Roethlisberger’s 2016 cap value sky rockets from 17.5 million to 26 million.
By trading Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers gain between close to 5.7 million dollars in cap space, which will make it much easier to manage their salary cap in 2016. By trading Timmons the Steelers will eat a tremendous 8 million dollar hit in salary cap dead money, but the upside to the deal is that the Steelers will get four productive players, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Ryan Shazier and the new draft pick, for less than they would have paid Timmons.
Does Timmons Departure Open the Door to a 4-3
The question on everyone’s mind since Dick LeBeau’s departure and Keith Butler’s promotion is whether the Steelers will abandon the 3-4 defense which has served as their base since 1983. While Mike Tomlin has discouraged such rumors, he hasn’t denied them and the Steelers have been linked to Randall Gregory, Shane Ray, Alvin Dupree, and Arik Armstead all college defensive ends and linebackers, some of whom don’t necessarily project to outside linebackers in the NFL.
The Steelers glut of talent at inside linebacker has been one of the strongest arguments against a 4-3 switch.
- Removing Timmons from the equation now makes it easier shuffle pieces around the rest of the depth chart.
Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert, the mastermind behind the train, has traded up twice in the first round of the NFL draft. The first time was in 2003 when he moved up to get Troy Polamalu. The second time was in 2006 when he moved to get Santonio Holmes.
If moving up in the first round isn’t terribly out of character for Colbert, the timing of the move is, as most trades like this occur during the draft itself.
Colbert refused to comment on the specifics of the deal, but when asked about his timing he simply responded, “Miami was interested in Lawrence Timmons and we were interested in Miami’s pick. All the pieces were in place so why wait? What better day to announce a trade than April 1st?”