PITTSBURGH -- Determined to have all their rookies under contract before the team reports to training camp on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers achieved that goal on Sunday afternoon, reaching agreement with first-round draft pick Lawrence Timmons.
The Florida State linebacker was the 15th player chosen overall in the draft, and is only the third pick in the first round to come to terms on a contract. Pittsburgh had earlier reached accords with its seven other choices.
Timmons, 21, will sign a five-year contract that, including incentives, has a maximum value of $15 million. The contract, negotiated by agents Drew Rosenhaus and Jason Rosenhaus, features $8.053 million in bonuses. The total bonus money represents an increase of about 8 percent over that paid to the No. 15 player chosen in the 2006 draft, cornerback Tye Hill, and the total value is an increase of about 19 percent.
Being able to negotiate only a five-year contract is also a plus for Timmons. Players taken in the top half of the first round can sign contracts with a maximum length of six seasons, but the shorter term is preferable for the player.
Regarded by most league scouts as the top outside linebacker prospect in the 2007 draft pool, Timmons was just a one-year starter at Florida State, replacing Ernie Sims, a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2006, at strongside linebacker. But he had an impressive season in 2006 and catapulted himself up draft boards.
Blessed with explosive quickness to the ball and terrific athleticism, Timmons is a bit undersized (6-foot, 234 pounds), but was timed in 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine. He also had a 35-inch vertical jump and a broad jump of 10-feet, 3-inches. Timmons demonstrated excellent strength by performing 25 repetitions in the standard 225-pound bench press.
For his career, Timmons had 126 tackles, 22½ tackles for losses, eight sacks, eight pressures, one interception, seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also blocked three punts on special teams units. Most of that production came last season, when Timmons started all 13 games. In all, Timmons appeared in 38 games during his career.
Timmons suffered a groin injury in the first practice of his first minicamp, and missed all the rest of the team's spring practices. The Steelers, who are revamping the linebacker corps, took a cautionary approach, preferring not to push Timmons back into action, so that he would be healthy for the start of camp.
Although many feel that Timmons will contend for the starting right linebacker spot once held by Joey Porter, who was released this spring, there is a possibility that he will also work at inside linebacker in camp. Pittsburgh chose another standout college linebacker, LaMarr Woodley of Michigan, with its second-round selection.
Timmons joins San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley (No. 28 pick) and Chicago tight end Greg Olsen (No. 31) as the only first-round picks in the league who have agreed on their rookie deals. The Rosenhaus brothers also negotiated Olsen's contract.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com