Steelers, Polamalu agree to new four-year deal

| Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011

The Steelers concluded a busy offseason with an 11th-hour signing of one of their best and most recognizable players.

The team agreed to a four-year contract with strong safety Troy Polamalu, locking up the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year through the 2014 season.

"I'm happy to say I will retire a Pittsburgh Steeler!" he wrote on his Twitter account Saturday.

Polamalu, 30, signed his new contract at Pittsburgh International Airport before the Steelers flew to Baltimore.

He is the fourth defensive player the Steelers have signed to a long-term contract since late July, joining cornerback Ike Taylor (four years, $28 million) and linebackers LaMarr Woodley (six years, $61.5 million) and Lawrence Timmons (five years, $50 million).

The Steelers also signed right tackle Willie Colon (five years, $29 million) during the preseason.

Polamalu, who tied for second in the NFL with seven interceptions last season, was entering the final year of a contract he signed in 2007. He was due to make $6.4 million this season.

The nine-year veteran and the Steelers narrowly beat a deadline in completing the deal, the terms of which were not immediately available. The Steelers have a long-standing policy of not negotiating contracts during the regular season.

Team officials could not be reached for comment. But the news brought rejoicing from teammate and fellow safety Ryan Clark.

"Thank God! My brother (Polamalu) will retire a Steeler! That's the way it should be! Thank God!" Clark wrote on Twitter.

Polamalu has been named first-team All-Pro three times (2005, '08, '10) and been selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls. He was the 2010 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

The signing may quell concerns Steelers fans have about Polamalu's health.

Polamalu missed two games last December with an Achilles problem, and the injury hampered the six-time Pro Bowler for the rest of the season.

He has missed 21 games during the past five seasons.

Polamalu admittedly was not 100 percent when he reported to training camp in July. But he looked like one of the most dynamic players in the NFL in the Steelers' second preseason game last month when he intercepted a Michael Vick pass and returned it 36 yards.

Polamalu also popped right up after the Eagles quarterback took him down with a shot to the knee.

"I feel good," Polamalu said late last week. "It's irrelevant how I feel. It only matters how I play."

With Polamalu signed, the Steelers only have one of their cornerstone players entering the final year of his contract. But receiver Mike Wallace will be only a restricted free agent after this season, his third in the league.

That means the Steelers can choose to match an offer made by an opposing team. They likely would receive at least a first-round draft pick in return if Wallace signed elsewhere.

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