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Steelers

Steelers, Timmons 'not close' to contract extension

| Thursday, July 28, 2016, 9:54 a.m.
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons drops Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, at Heinz Field.
Philip G. Pavely | Trib Total Media
Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons drops Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, at Heinz Field.

Lawrence Timmons will report to his 10th training camp on Thursday — it very well could be his last with the Steelers.

Timmons and the Steelers have engaged in contract discussions but are "not close" to an agreement, according to industry sources.

If the two sides don't come to an agreement by the start of the season on Sept. 12, Timmons would become a free agent at the end of the season. The Steelers have had a long-standing rule of not negotiating contracts in season.

Timmons is in the final year of a $48 million contract he signed in 2011. Due to contract restructures in 2012, 2013 and 2015, his salary cap hit has ballooned to $15.1 million this year — trailing only Ben Roethlisberger's $24 million.

A cap hit as significant as Timmons', combined with his ability to play at a high level, usually suggests a contract extension, which the Steelers did two years ago with a pair of aging veterans with big cap hits, Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller. But the Steelers needed money then. They don't now, at least not to add years to a 30-year-old veteran's contract.

The Steelers are $4.29 million under the cap, according to the NFLPA's numbers.

The Steelers could be willing to let Timmons, 30, play out his contract and make a decision whether to try to re-sign him during the offseason.

The Steelers are high on backup Vince Williams, but he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season as well.

Timmons, the Steelers' first-round pick in Mike Tomlin's first year, has been dependable over his career.

Timmons has played in 104 games, and started 85 in a row. Between 2013-14, he played in 1,814 consecutive snaps. Last year, he played in every snap until Week 13 against the Bengals when he was replaced in some passing situations by safety Robert Golden.

Over the final four games, Timmons played in only 83 percent of the Steelers' snaps, which didn't sit particularly well with him.

Even with a change in defensive philosophy, Timmons led the team with 119 tackles, had a team-high four 10-tackle games and was third on the team with five sacks.

Mark Kaboly is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mkaboly@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MarkKaboly_Trib.

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