Comparing Timmons Contract to Other Middle Linebackers

Following LaMarr Woodley’s contract extension earlier this summer a lot of us agreed that Lawrence Timmons, the player selected one round ahead of Woodley in 2007, should be the next player the Steelers target for a long-term deal. On Tuesday they signed him to a six-year, $50 million contract that also comes with $22.5 million in guaranteed money.

Here’s a quick look at how that compares to some other middle linebackers that have cashed in over the past couple of seasons, ranked in order of guaranteed money.

David Harris 4 $36 million $29.5 million 26 2007
Patrick Willis 5 $50 million $29 million 25 2007
Jon Beason 5 $50 million $25 million 25 2007
Lawrence Timmons 6 $50 million $22.5 million 25 2007
Karlos Dansby 5 $43 million $22 million 29 2004
Bart Scott 6 $48 million $22 million 29 2002
Demeco Ryans 6 $48 million $21.75 million 26 2006

Seems like a pretty fair deal for the Steelers.

How many players on that list would you take over Timmons right now and into the future? Patrick Willis is the easy answer (because he’s probably better than every linebacker in the NFL), but other than that, would you take any of them?

Beyond that, a contract extension for a player like Timmons isn’t just about what he’s done in the past, but also what he will do going forward. And as the youngest starter on the Steelers defense (unless Ziggy Hood takes over for Aaron Smith) and one of the most dynamic middle linebackers in the NFL that can pretty much everything (cover, blitz, play against the run) it should have been an easy call to get this done and get it done now, because his price tag was only going to go up.

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  • Anonymous

    Good data. The difference between 22.5 and 21.75 guaranteed is small, and 2 over 6 years is also small. Aside from Bart Scott and Demeco Ryans, who each get 8 per year, Timmons’ 8.33 is the lowest per year figure. The only player on that list better than Timmons is Willis, who gets 2 more per year and 6.5 more guaranteed. Timmons looks to me like the best deal on the list, though, to be fair, Willis’ is pretty good as well when you compare against other position contracts tossed around recently, and Bart Scott is a great player as well, though some of that contract will probably end up being definitively post-prime for him.

    I’m not sure if you meant to be including only ILB/MLB, but I think James Harrison is better than Patrick WIllis. DeMarcus Ware and LaMarr Woodley, though a bit less versatile are right up there as well.

  • Cols714

    But Ted says he would have signed for less if the Steelers had just followed his bargaining strategy!

    For the record, I think Timmons is just as good as Willis.

  • ecks

    i’m a fan of this signing/contract extension. its a great deal for the steelers. also, Timmons is on my shortlist for next steelers jersey.

    another thing to consider: Willis gets slightly more media hype as one of the few bright spots on a mediocre 49ers team, vs Timmons is competing against #s 7, 92, 86, 43, 56, 34 for a slice of media attention.

  • Gretz

    I also forgot to mention, and wanted to point out, that the ages in the chart reflect the age of the player when they signed their contract. 

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Several reports have the guaranteed money for Juan at $18mm, putting him as the least expensive guy on this list on that measure.

    Also, FWIW, he looked physically like a beast in the preseason so far. Looks like he gained muscle and retained his agility.

  • Hiddenaway

    Enjoy your blog guys and listen to all the podcasts.  Keep it up. 

    Some others like Jim Wexell over at disagree on the Timmons situation. Although the contract itself is fair value, it comes down to the decision to do Timmons instead of Troy this year.  I agree that Timmons was worth it, but I wanted to bring up another argument.  Some say that Timmons has shown enough yet, he’s always near the play, but hasn’t turned the corner to the playmaker that the Mack LB is designed to be (think Kendrell Bell rookie year).  That LT is around the ball, but but will, for example, miss a QB sack because he blows right by the guy.  That, although impressive statistically, he is not the difference-maker and “soul of the defense” that Polamalu is and that the Steelers should’ve shown loyalty towards him first.

    I sided with the Timmons guys, pointing out Troy’s advanced age (north of 30) and injury history.  But at 6-7 w/o him in the lineup, it’s a hard argument to make that Timmons right now is more critical to the D than Troy, who, with two SB rings and now a DPOY award, is already probably sniffing the HOF.  The similarities to Rod Woodson’s late career injury and the Steelers reluctance to sign and retire him and his subsequent departure is being floated as a real possibility for Troy.  The Steelers probably don’t have the money to get another deal done at this point. 

  • Anonymous

    As much as I love what Troy does for this team both on the field and as a great face for the franchise this is a business and Juan is just entering his prime.  I agree with signing Timmons now and working with Troy or if need be franchise tagging him.

    I’ll admit that it does feel somewhat “slimy” to tag Troy but I think he’s smart/mature enough to understand how the league works.  I want both Juan and Troy to be Steelers for Life!

    • Anonymous

      On the other hand, a player sitting on a franchise tag makes pretty good money.

      • Randy Steele

        Franchise tags for safeties usually aren’t quite so breathtaking as tags for linebackers.

  • Mike_Rav

    The decision not to do Troy was extremely easy, IMO. You have to consider that Troy is playing this year at a disadvantage when it comes to making deals. He has to prove he can stay healthy for the whole year and into the post-season where he’s needed. If he can’t prove that, then he’s not worth what he might be otherwise. Also, by letting him play this contract out, that puts him at 31 when it comes time for the next one. I doubt highly, that he’s willing to risk hitting the market as a 31 year old SS with injury concerns and not accept a fair deal from Pittsburgh. He also has to consider the fact that he can/will be franchised if he doesn’t accept a deal that’s fair for both sides.

    Nobody here is saying that Troy isn’t the most important and dynamic player (when healthy) on our D, but he has to realize that this is a business, and right now the odds of him hitting a major payday are extremely against him. So it’s either get a fair deal done next year or get franchised, pretty simple. If he ends up forcing the organization to franchise him, that puts him at 32 looking for a new contract, that’s not a good situation for him.