The Pittsburgh Steelers have two important players who will become free agents at the end of this season; Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons. After signing Willie Colon, Ike Taylor, and LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers didn’t have enough money left to sign both of them. I thought it was obvious which of them the Steelers should sign, and it looks like the Steelers agreed with me.
The Steelers chose to sign Lawrence Timmons to a new six-year, $50 million contract.
Don’t get me wrong. Troy is a crucial part in the Steelers’ defensive machine. He’s the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He can do things that few other players in the NFL can do. But despite that, signing Timmons was more important.
Troy Polamalu is the past, and the present. Lawrence Timmons is the future.
We all know that despite Polamalu’s amazing talent, he has had a hard time staying healthy in recent years. Troy is 30 years old, and his best years may be behind him.
Lawrence Timmons, on the other hand, is only 25 years old, and his best years are ahead of him.
Timmons led the Steelers in tackles in 2010 with 135. That’s more than double Troy Polamalu’s 63 tackles. Timmons also had more sacks, more forced fumbles, and more fumble recoveries than Polamalu. In fact, the only key category that Polamalu led Timmons in was interceptions. Polamalu had 7, while Timmons only had 2.
Timmons was Mike Tomlin’s first draft pick when he took over as Steelers head coach. Tomlin took Timmons in the first round in 2007. The San Francisco 49er’s Patrick Willis was the only linebacker taken ahead of Timmons that year.
Timmons didn’t break into the Steelers’ starting lineup until his 3rd season, and many fans were disappointed by that. But since being moved to the inside and becoming a starter, Timmons has been an unheralded star.
Timmons is the fastest of the Steelers’ linebackers. Moreover, if you ask the team, they’ll tell you that Timmons is the hardest hitting. That’s high praise when you consider that the Steelers include James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley among their linebackers.
As an inside linebacker, Timmons doesn’t accumulate as many sacks as his outside counterparts Harrison and Woodley. And in the world of linebackers, sacks are the sexy statistic. It’s the statistic that everyone talks about. But Timmons had almost 3 times as many tackles as Woodley. That’s critical to the team’s success, even if it’s not sexy.
With his new contract, Timmons is now locked up through the 2016 season. That’s good for Timmons, and good for the Steelers.
Congratulations, Lawrence. You’ve earned the new contract.
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