Troy Polamalu‘s time in Pittsburgh may come to an end this offseason, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who said in an appearance on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that he expects the veteran safety to leave the team “by some means” (CBSLocal.com). Bouchette suggested that the Steelers are hoping Polamalu decides to retire, but if the 12-year pro wants to continue his career, the team may be forced to cut him.
Following up on Bouchette’s report, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) agrees that regardless of whether or not Polamalu decides to retire, he’s not expected to return to the Steelers. According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network (via Twitter), the eight-time Pro Bowler has expressed some desire to continue playing in 2015, but it’s believed he may consider retirement if the Steelers let him go.
Polamalu, who will turn 34 next month, has been a fixture on the Steelers’ defense since entering the league in 2003, appearing in 158 total games for the franchise. However, he wasn’t the same game-changing player in 2014 that he had been earlier in his career. While Pro Football Focus (subscription required) still gave the veteran a positive grade, it was only by a hair — his +0.1 mark placed him 48th out of 87 qualified safeties. It was also the only season of Polamalu’s career besides 2007 in which he failed to record at least one interception or sack.
With Polamalu’s cap hit set to increase to $8.25MM for 2015, the Steelers would save $3.75MM by releasing him, taking on a $4.5MM dead money charge in that scenario.