Monday, July 23, 2007
Steelers lock up Polamalu through 2011 season
ESPN.com news services
LATROBE, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Steelers star safety
Troy Polamalu signed a four-year contract extension Monday worth $30.19
million that makes him the highest-paid player in team history and
one of the NFL's top-paid defensive backs.
The deal guarantees the Steelers will keep their most versatile
defensive player through the 2011 season, when he will be 30,
meaning Polamalu could negotiate another big-money contract before
his NFL career ends.
Even if Polamalu said he didn't want to leave as a free agent
after this season and doesn't expect to want to take off four years
from now, either.
"I didn't want to be a player who is jumping from team to
team," Polamalu said. "I've always felt comfortable here, I think
this organization, this tradition they have here, is very legendary
and I always wanted to be part of this."
Polamalu, an All-Pro safety in 2005, already was due to make
$1,088,000 in salary and $1,722,000 in guaranteed bonuses this
season, for a total contract of $2,810,000 and a salary cap value
of $1,632,000. His extension kicks in next season and will pay him
a guaranteed $15,375,000 during the 2008-2011 seasons in guaranteed
money and roster bonuses, which are automatically paid as long as
he is on the team.
"You have to earn the money," Polamalu said. "It's not for
what I did in the past, it's for what I've got to earn now."
How could he earn that?
"Four Super Bowls in a row?" he said, smiling. "Go out and
play hard, that's all I could do individually."
Previously, the Steelers' highest-paid player was wide receiver
Hines Ward, who signed a four-year extension in 2005 that has a
maximum value of $25.8 million and guarantees him $10 million. That
deal runs through 2009.
"I'm very happy to get this done. The Rooneys were very fair
and I think both sides are very happy to get this done very
peacefully and without any feelings hurt at all," Polamalu said,
referring to team owner Dan Rooney and president Art Rooney II.
Polamalu's signing was the second major contract deal by the
Steelers in two days, but is likely to be their last before this
season begins. On Sunday, they agreed to a five-year contract with
outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, their first-round draft pick,
that guarantees him $12 million and could be worth as much as $15
All-Pro Alan Faneca sought a contract extension during the
offseason, but was unhappy when he was offered a deal that he said
was worth less than the NFL's other premier guards make.
During a May minicamp, Faneca said this will be his final season
in Pittsburgh, and he reiterated that Monday. Faneca, a five-time
All-Pro left guard, is making $4,375,000 this season but could
possibly make twice that as a free agent next year.
The Steelers also still have to decide what to do with linebacker Clark Haggans, right tackle Max Starks, guard Kendall Simmons and fullback Dan Kreider -- starters whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
Polamalu wanted to get this contract done -- and do so without
negotiating in public -- to avoid the problems Faneca had.
"I feel for Alan, it's a shame," Polamalu said. "He's got a
wife and kids and a lifestyle to uphold and, hopefully, he can get
something done that's fair."
Polamalu, one of the most versatile players in Steelers history,
was a first-team All-Pro player when Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl
during the 2005 season and was a second team All-Pro in 2004. He
made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons and, besides being known
for the flowing black hair that streams out of his helmet, is
widely regarded as one of the league's top defensive players.
Polamalu, a former Southern California player, has 10 sacks and
10 interceptions during his four-season career.
"I'm very excited about this [contract]," said new Steelers
coach Mike Tomlin, who no longer must worry about Polamalu possibly
leaving after this season.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who was retained by Tomlin,
uses the strong safety in a variety of positions, sometimes lining
Polamalu up as an outside linebacker in the pass rush, on the
inside on running plays or deep in a traditional formation.
"Troy Polamalu is a very special football player who has been a
key ingredient to our success over the past few seasons," Art
Rooney II said. "We are excited to know he will be a Steeler for
many seasons to come."
Polamalu's contract was announced minutes before the Steelers
officially opened their first training camp under Tomlin with
conditioning tests, a previously much-dreaded drill that former
coach Bill Cowher always held on the second day of camp.
The Associated Press and ESPN.com's John Clayton contributed to this report.