As the Pittsburgh Steelers embark on their first training camp minus former coach Bill Cowher for the first time in 15 years, the team appears ready to announce a signing that will keep one of their biggest playmakers around for years to come. Sources say that the Steelers and safety Troy Polamalu are getting close to coming to terms on a long-term deal, and that the deal could be announced before the Steelers take the field for their first practice of training camp Monday in Latrobe, PA.
With new coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau putting in wrinkles on defense that will have the Steelers playing some cover-2, the system looks perfect for a player like Polamalu, who can roam the field and make plays. The Steelers Super Bowl run two seasons ago was complete with Polamalu racing up to the line of scrimmage at times to harass the quarterback, or to get in on a tackle of a running back. Rumors were stating that Troy wanted to move to a team near the west coast to be near his family, but in the end, those appeared to be just that – rumors.
Polamalu is in the last year of his rookie deal with the Steelers, and is set to earn just over $1 mil this season. With a big signing bonus coming with the new deal, that $1 mil will count as chump change once the contract is announced. The team has undergone some shots by fans and the media this offseason for letting go of linebacker and emotional team leader Joey Porter, and the ongoing feud with offensive lineman Alan Fanaca, who will enter the final year of his deal and has publicly stated he will not come back to the team in 2008, and even asked to be traded at one point. This deal should settle people down and show that the team is serious about keeping who they feel are their best players around.
The 26-year-old Polamalu came to Pittsburgh from USC after being drafted in the first round of the 2003 draft. He has been in the Pro Bowl for the last three seasons after becoming a starter at the safety spot in 2004. Reports say that once Troy is signed long-term, the team may be done dealing with extensions for vets until after the 2007 season is over. The team has three starters on the O-line who would be free agents after the 07 season, and linebacker Clark Haggans and fullback Dan Kreider are also free agents after the season.
There was also talk about a contract extension already for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but those talks have cooled, and now sources say that any such extension will not be discussed until after the 2007 season and the team decides what other Steeler free agents the team may want to bring back.