It sure seemed to be a bit of a shocker when the Steelers announced a new three-year contract for reserve inside linebacker Vince Williams on Tuesday, a deal that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2018 season.
It wasn’t necessarily surprising that they signed Vince Williams, 26 and a solid reserve and special teams player over the first three years of his career since the Steelers made Williams their sixth round pick out of Florida State in the 2013 NFL Draft, from a business standpoint.
- It just seemed strange given the financial realities they face with incumbent Lawrence Timmons, the 2007 first round pick who is entering the final year of his contract.
Lawrence Timmons, 30, is in the last year of a five-year contract he signed in 2011 and will earn a base salary of $8.75 million in 2016. Furthermore, thanks to restructures over the years, he’ll count over $15 million against the Steelers salary cap this season.
What’s that going to mean for next season in-terms of inking a third contract with the Steelers?
- I’d say it can only mean getting used to the idea of seeing Lawrence Timmons in different colors other than Black and Gold.
While it’s true that Lawrence Timmons has been the team’s most consistent linebacker since 2012, and he’s averaged 82 tackles a season since 2010, fact is, he’s starting to slow down as he enters his early-30s. Gone is the explosiveness that was part of his athletic package over the first five years of his career. True, in place of his youthful athleticism is poise and experience, but how much is that worth when it comes to salary negotiations?
It might be worth more for teams that don’t face the prospects of inking multiple Pro Bowl players to new deals, but in the Steelers case, they must deal with three either next season or the season after–guard David DeCastro, running back Le’Veon Bell and receiver Antonio Brown.
What would the Steelers’ prospects be for contending if they would lose even two-thirds of that aforementioned trio? It says here, even with Ben Roethlsiberger at full health and playing at the level he’s played under Todd Haley, the prospects of competing wouldn’t be very good.
- With that in mind, Lawrence Timmons Steelers farewell tour looks to begin soon, while Vince Williams prepares himself for starting duties next fall.
Despite his decline in play, would this mean watching Lawrence Timmons, a player who has participated in two Super Bowls in Pittsburgh, finish out his career with another team?
Most likely, but that’s why they call the NFL a business above all else.