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2017 Steelers Free Agent Market Watch: Inside Linebackers

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The Steelers have a decision to make at the position of inside linebacker. Will it be to retain the ageless Lawrence Timmons or look elsewhere? BTSC continues to look at available free agents at every position.

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The Steelers find themselves in a conundrum of sorts at inside linebacker. While they have a star/injury risk in Ryan Shazier and a solid contributor in Vince Williams, there's very little depth here. Although he's 30, Lawrence Timmons was one of the best defenders week-in and week-out for the 2016 Steelers. He wants to stay, will grant the Steelers a hometown discount and plays with passion and ferocity. I feel that two-three years on a new deal for "the Law Dog" is the best play here for the Steelers in their quest for SB LII. However, here are the top available free agents should Pittsburgh move on from LT.

Inside Linebackers

Donta' Hightower - New England Patriots

Hightower is a force when he's on the field, however injuries have relagated him to only one 16-game campaign over his five seasons in the league. The Patriots are still in heavy talks with him to retain Hightower's services in their 4-3 configuration. Sources have him seeking $12 million a year. He's worth the cash, but the Steelers have talent at the position and have much greater needs elsewhere for that kind of green.

Gerald Hodges - San Francisco 49ers

Hodges covers pass targets and handles the run very well. The veteran of four seasons in Minnesota and San Fran had 83 tackles, three sacks and two picks last year. The Penn Stater is a very reliable defender that could possibly be had for around $4M per year. If the Steelers decide to move on from Timmons, this 26-year-old would be a very good replacement.

Zach Brown-Buffalo Bills

Brown did very little since being drafted by the Titans in 2012. However, his walk year found him second among NFL tacklers in '16 with 149. Although playing in a 4-3 doesn't necessarily keep you from transitioning to a 3-4, I don't see Brown as a target for Pittsburgh. With his great showing last year inflating his value, the Steelers may find it easier in signing the country singer of the same name.

Kiko Alonso - Miami Dolphins

Alonso is a stud in the 4-3 scheme for the Dolphins. Although banged up in 2016, Alonso was one game short of a full slate. That has not been the case in his career of four years. He missed all of 2014 and five more in 2015. His 115 tackles are a big reason the Dolphins are feverishly looking to retain the veteran of three teams. He plays with tremendous heart, but Pittsburgh does not seem like a likely landing point for Kiko.

Sean Spence - Tennessee Titans

Especially if the price is right, Spence would be a welcome returnee to Steel City. He knows the system, could possibly be had for team-friendly digits and plays with heart. Spence finished 2016 with 54 tackles and three sacks. I could see this reunion being a possibility.

Other Notables:

Manti T'eo - Los Angeles Chargers

Kevin Minter - Arizona Cardinals

Rolondo McClain - Dallas Cowboys

Perry Riley - The Raiders

Todd Davis - RFA - Denver Broncos

Sio Moore - Arizona Cardinals

D'Qwell Jackson - Indianapolis Colts

Jon Bostic - Detroit Lions

Korey Toomer - RFA - Los Angeles Chargers

Will Compton - Washington Redskins