clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Lawrence Timmons rejoining the Steelers would solve some problems at inside linebacker

Former Steeler Lawrence Timmons would go a long way in solving the team's current need at the inside linebacker spot if he were to return to Pittsburgh.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes you envision a scenario but don't really think it will ever happen, such as, say, that unavailable woman you like suddenly becoming available and discovering she's keen on you, too.

Every once in a while, this scenario actually plays out in reality, and when it does, well, it's peachy keen.

Speaking of unavailable people, according to more than one reliable source, former Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons is expected to be released by his current team, the Dolphins, not one year after signing a contract with them in 2017.

Obviously, knowing Pittsburgh's gaping hole at the inside linebacker spot, following the unfortunate spinal injury suffered by Ryan Shazier near the end of the last season, I have visions of Timmons and Pittsburgh reuniting for a season or two, which would go a long way in solving perhaps the team's biggest need heading into free agency and the draft.

Timmons, 32 in May, spent his first 10 seasons in Pittsburgh and really was about as consistent a sight on the football field as one could hope for, starting a remarkable 96 straight games between 2011-2016.

It appeared his play was declining heading into the 2016 campaign, so much so, in fact, Pittsburgh signed 2013 sixth round pick Vince Williams to a contract extension through the 2018 season.

Whatever was ailing Timmons at the onset of 2016 seemed to disappear late in the year, as he looked like the Lawrence Timmons of 2012 and was clearly one of the Steelers best defenders during the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh actually wanted Timmons to come back after he hit the open market last spring, but you couldn't blame him for heading to Miami, where he received a two-year deal for $12 million—$11 million of it being guaranteed.

Timmons had some personal problems in 2017, and actually missed two games—one due to not showing up for the Dolphins' season opener and one due to the subsequent team-imposed suspension. But he still proved to be reliable enough to start 14 games for Miami and rack up 84 total tackles.

Not exactly the greatest year of Timmons' career, but not necessarily an indicator that he's washed up.

Now with the news that Timmons will soon be released (a move made possible when a portion of that guaranteed money was voided due to those personal issues), it just makes sense that the Steelers will come calling and ask their prodigal son to return for another run at it.

Is Timmons a perfect fit for the mack linebacker spot, a position he held for many years before age and Shazier came along to move him over to buck?

No, but he was still good enough to play there not even two years ago, when Shazier missed a month of the 2016 campaign with a knee injury.

In fact, I can recall appearing as a guest on one of BTSC's podcasts that fall, and the main topic was whether or not Pittsburgh should find a way to get Timmons, Shazier and Williams, who was eating up tackles like they were Skittles while filling in at the buck spot, on the field at the same time once Shazier came back from his injury.

This is why it is kind of bizarre that some are saying Timmons would be a great depth signing for Pittsburgh.

Depth, really? Behind who, Sean Spence, Tyler Matakevich and L.J. Fort?

Not bloody likely.

For one, Timmons, unlike James Harrison who will actually turn 40 in May, wouldn't re-sign here if he thought it would be just for depth.

Number two, he's clearly better and—even at this stage of his career—far more athletic than his three aforementioned colleagues at the inside linebacker spot.

I understand the great concern about Timmons' at this point is his ability in pass coverage, and that he's now often taken off the field on obvious passing downs.

Believe me, this thought has not escaped my mind—and even if it did, you keep reminding me of it.

OK, I get all that, about the pass coverage, but did you happen to see the current list of free agent inside linebackers?

Not exactly a group that will make one forget about Dick Butkus, Jack Lambert and Ray Lewis anytime soon.

No, the current Timmons wouldn't be the best option, but the best option was lost to a wicked injury last December 4.

The Steelers are still in "win now" mode, and they need to find a solution to replace a player they once built their entire defense around.

No player they bring in right now is going to be Ryan Shazier, unless it happens to be a first round pick who comes in and repeats what T.J. Watt was able to do in his rookie season.

But nobody will know for sure if any hypothetical rookie will be able to step right in and be a phenom until he actually steps in and plays like one.

If that were to happen, I'd be all for it.

But I don't know much about a hypothetical rookie at the moment.

I do know a great deal about Lawrence Timmons, and I would feel a lot better about the 2018 season if he becomes a Pittsburgh Steeler again.