It was announced, today, that the Pittsburgh Steelers re-signed their playmaking inside linebacker, Lawrence Timmons, to a six year $50 million contract extension. This coming just two short weeks after outside linebacker Lamarr Woodley signed a six year $61.5 million contract. Timmons and Woodley were drafted in the first and second rounds, respectively, by the Steelers in the 2007 NFL Draft and are just coming into the prime of their careers. In April of 2009, the Steelers extended the contract of James Harrison for six years $51.175 million. Now, the Steelers have tied up three of the best linebackers in the NFL for a combined $162.675 million over the next six years with part of Harrison's contract already paid to both he and Roger Goodell.
Lawrence Timmons, 25, set career highs last year in interceptions (2), passes defensed (9), and tackles (135). He is rapidly becoming the playmaker for football's best defense with room to get better. As he continues to be used as a free-roaming linebacker, it allows Troy Polamalu to be used more in coverage.
Speaking of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers stated they were done giving contracts this season which leaves Polamalu with the remaining year on his contract. It's entirely possible he will re-sign after this season, but it is also possible his contract status depends on his ability to stay healthy. In the past two seasons, Polamalu has missed 13 games with knee and Achilles injuries. Despite missing time last year with the Achilles injury, Polamalu tied a career high in interceptions with seven. However, in the playoffs, he was not at 100%, missing tackles and no picks.
Signing Timmons over Polamalu was the right move by GM Kevin Colbert. Polamalu is getting into the twilight of his career while Timmons is just starting to tap into his potential. While the linebacking core is extremely deep and the secondary is extremely shallow, the Steelers would be better off with a player of Timmons' caliber who has a history of staying on the field week in, week out. Again, I still see the Steelers re-signing Polamalu in the 2012 offseason, but for now signing Timmons is the better move.