The most celebrated player on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and one of the greatest safeties of all time, will not be wearing the black and gold in the 2015 season. It is possible he won’t be playing at all. After 12 seasons Troy Polamalu may be retiring.
In 2014 he only played 12 games thanks to recurring injuries, and was a backup in the Steeler’s playoff game.
Polamalu has been the most recognizable player on Pittsburg’s defense; and not only because of his long, curly hair flowing behind him as he ran all over the field. He has been a ‘human highlight reel’ accomplishing athletic feats nearly incomprehensible to fans and fellow players alike. A combination of injuries and the salary cap will remove number 43 from the field. He is 34 years old.
After a distinctive career at USC, Pittsburgh drafted Polamalu in 2003. In 2002 he was a consensus All-American at USC, and elected to the first team. In 2001 and 2002 he was voted to the first team of the All Pac-10.
Polamalu’s accomplishment with the Steelers are many:
- In 2003, he was voted the Pittsburgh Steeler’s Rookie of the Year.
- In the same year he was given the Joe Greene Great Performance Award.
- Polamalu was voted to the Pro Bowl eight times.
- He was a five-time All Pro.
- Polamalu was a member of three AFC Championship Teams in 2005, 2008, and 2010, and was twice a Super Bowl Champion in numbers XL and XLIII.
- He was voted as the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and the AFC Defensive Player of the year.
- Five times he received the award for AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
- Polamalu was elected to the All-Decade Team for the 2000’s, and was the NFL Alumni Player of the Year in 2010.
If he retires, his NFL statistics will remain 770 tackles, 12 quarterback sacks, 32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, and three touchdowns.
Inside the Pittsburgh Steeler’s offices the hope is that Polamalu will choose retirement before they release him. There is no word as of yet from the future Hall of Famer concerning his plans for 2015.
The expected release of Troy Polamalu will open an additional $6 million in the salary cap. The Steelers are already about $9 million under, resulting in speculation about their plans for 2015 and Super Bowl 50, (no Roman numerals this year).
Are they planning moves in free agency, or are they reducing the cap significantly to allow negotiations with players they want to keep long-term?
A long-term contract for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would reduce the cap even more.
Roethlisberger will begin his 12th season as Pittsburgh’s quarterback. At 33, Steeler management must be concerned about how many years their two-time Super Bowl winning leader will play, and play without serious injury. Will management attempt to obtain players through free agency to fill in critical positions, or do they believe that their present roster, with the addition of a couple of key draft choices, can take them to Santa Clara next February.
Pittsburgh has a new Defensive Coordinator in 2015; Linebacker Coach Keith Butler will take over the position with the departure of Dick LeBeau.
By James Turnage