The Pittsburgh Steelers’ need at inside linebacker has been well documented, and it also has been expected the team will be signing a free agent to help fill the void left by injured Ryan Shazier.
To be honest, most assumed the team would be signing a free agent linebacker, and also adding one via the 2018 NFL Draft. While the team will likely be sticking to this script, the first part of the equation is complete. The team signed former Bears, Patriots and Colts linebacker Jon Bostic to a two-year deal Sunday.
Bostic is in no way considered the long-term answer alongside Vince Williams, but his signing does have more implications other than the current depth chart of the Steelers’ inside linebackers.
As NFL Free Agency was set to begin, the Miami Dolphins announced they were going to release former Steeler Lawrence Timmons. When fans read these headlines they all thought the same thing: It is only a matter of time until Timmons returns to the Steel City.
After all, the team’s need at inside linebacker combined with the knowledge of the defense made a lot of sense for the team. But the overall price tag for Timmons, along with a declining skill set, could have been too much for the Steelers to take on.
This may not be popular among the fan base, but the Steelers found a player who is 5-years younger, more athletic and has more upside heading into 2018. Timmons does have the experience with Keith Butler and the Steelers’ defense on his side, but a veteran player like Bostic should have no problem picking up the calls and responsibilities given an entire offseason to do so.
Ultimately, this all comes down to expectations. The expectations of Bostic should be a depth piece who can step in and play if necessary, but ultimately to help be that depth after the team selects a linebacker they feel will be ready to contribute early in their NFL career. Compare those expectations to Timmons, who likely still wants to start, and you can see a clear difference between the two.
Should fans be standing up and cheering the addition of Bostic? Probably not. But they should be happy the team made the move to bring in an experienced player to help at a position of need this offseason.
The reality now is how Timmons’ Steelers career will be one which is celebrated when he retires, but the storybook ending of Timmons coming back home just might not be in the cards now.