PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 9: LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates his sack on Matt Hasselbeck #8 (not pictured)of the Tennessee Titans during the game on October 9, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
With the hibernation of NFL news fully in effect, it's time to look back over the past 12-15 months, and apply some "hindsight is 20/20" reasoning to the decisions made by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Some good, some bad, and all-in-all, after a lockout-destroyed offseason, the Steelers came out looking pretty good.
While it's silly to suggest the decisions to extend and sign those players can be judged after the first year of their multi-year deals, it's still fair to see the benefits and detriments of that first year - when the pressure is the highest.
Starting Monday, the four-part "Steelers 2011 Big Money Guys" series will begin. We're going to dive into each of the four Steelers defenders who landed hefty contract extensions, and provide some big picture insight on how they played and how they factored into the team's success last year.
All four of them had unique experiences in comparison to their previous years, where they were successful enough to command big dollars from the Steelers. Polamalu held an emerging secondary together and helped lead it to the top of the league in terms of passing yards against and scoring. Woodley found himself an early contender for Defensive Player of the Year, only to be derailed by a nagging hamstring injury. Timmons moved positions from inside to out to help alleviate the the loss of OLB James Harrison over the second quarter of the season.
As always, feel free to provide your own insight into the decisions to sign these players to long-term deals, and what the future holds for each of them, and their defensive counterparts.