Steelers strong safety Polamalu ponders next season, beyond
Troy Polamalu doesn't want to think about this possibly being his last game with the Steelers.
“I don't know,” the seven-time Pro Bowl safety said Thursday about his future in Pittsburgh. “My intention is to play on Sunday, and we'll see what happens from there on.”
Might he retire, if he doesn't like the direction the Steelers are headed following what, at best, will be a second successive 8-8 season?
“I don't know,” Polamalu said. “I really don't know. ... The chips will land wherever they may after this game, and we'll see.
“I want to play this game as long and as good as I can play it. Whenever that (retirement) time comes, it will come. I'm not sure when it will come, though.”
Polamalu understands that if the Steelers (7-8) miss the playoffs for the second year in a row following their Sunday game against the Browns (4-11), the organization could undergo a major makeover in 2014.
Tough decisions must be made about longtime defensive regulars such as Polamalu, Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark, Ike Taylor, Larry Foote and LaMarr Woodley. The majority might not return, both for performance and monetary reasons. The defense is the NFL's oldest, with an average age of 29, and isn't playing at the level it did while leading the league in 2011 and 2012, ranking 14th this season.
Polamalu's salary cap hit of nearly $10.9 million for 2014, the final season of his contract, is substantial. And because he has no dead money resulting from prior restructurings, the Steelers could cut him and immediately free up $8.25 million — his scheduled 2014 salary — in cap space.
For a franchise that will go into the offseason more than $10 million over the projected cap, that is a significant amount.
“I have no idea what my cap situation is,” Polamalu said. “I have no idea about dead money, live money; to be honest I don't even know what I make.”
There is a chance the Steelers could ask Polamalu to restructure his contract, just as they did with linebacker James Harrison last season. But those talks didn't go well, and Harrison wound up playing in Cincinnati. Polamalu has no idea what would happen if he's asked to rework his contract.
“Unfortunately, this is a business,” Polamalu said. “The higher-ups make their decisions to take care of their families, and the players have to make their decisions to take care of their families. That's the unfortunate part of this business.”
No doubt there will be a demand for Polamalu's services somewhere next season. After missing nine games in 2012 with a torn calf, Polamalu is enjoying a comeback season at age 32, one comparable to many of his Pro Bowl seasons.
But he isn't satisfied, saying, “I know there are a lot of plays here that I've messed up that could have made a difference in games, a big difference in games. ... I've given a 7-8 effort like everybody else.”
It hasn't helped that Polamalu often plays out of position — as an undersized inside linebacker trying to stop the run — because linebacker Larry Foote was injured in the season-opening game and nose tackle Casey Hampton wasn't re-signed.
“I will say there are players that I can think of that we don't have this year that, I feel, could make us a better team,” Polamalu said.
But, despite being unsure of the Steelers' plans for him, Polamalu doesn't want to be a Franco Harris or a Mike Webster, who finished their careers outside of Pittsburgh.
“Could I, standing here right now (think about playing elsewhere)?” he said. “I couldn't see that happening but, whether it happens or not, it's God will.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Run game needed for balance vs. Seahawks
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Rookie linebacker Chickillo adjusting to role with Steelers
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin not grooming successor to RB Williams
- Steelers’ Nix embraces unassuming role
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward
- Steelers notebook: Players get back to work after bye
- Steelers run defense continues its pursuit to be the league’s best