Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu Announces Retirement

Longtime Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has announced his retirement from the NFL, telling Jim Wexell of that he’s hanging up his cleats. One of the best defenders of his generation, Polamalu was not expected to return to Pittsburgh in 2015, and he explained that the idea of playing for another franchise did not appeal to him.Troy Polamalu

“I did not seriously consider playing elsewhere,” said Polamalu. “It was just whether or not I wanted to play. I had talked to a lot of people about what I should do with my situation, and what they kept saying back to me, and which was not a sufficient reason, was ‘Troy, you played 12 years in the NFL, you won Super Bowls, won individual awards. There’s noting left to prove. You have a legacy.’ And I just kept saying, ‘First of all, I don’t care about a legacy. Second of all, I play the game because I enjoy it.’ That’s the reason to keep playing.

But when I started this process and started to debate whether I should come back or should I play, that was kind of the sign for me to say, ‘Whoa, if you’re just even debating it maybe you shouldn’t play anymore,’ because what I do know about this game is it takes a lot, a lot, of commitment just to be an average player.”

Polamalu, who will turn 34 in 10 days, had 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.

But it was off-the-field concerns that ultimately lead Polamalu to contemplate retirement. “It’s all about family,” he said. “I live here in Pittsburgh now, and since the end of the season I’ve had a chance to enjoy my family on a level I never had before. It was awesome.” Seemingly a lock for a Hall of Fame berth, Polamalu won two Super Bowl titles with the Steelers (2006, 2009), and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. The 12-year veteran posted 32 interceptions during the course of his career.

As noted above, the USC alum was not expected back with the Steelers for the upcoming season, and the club reportedly had hoped that Polamalu would retire, sparing the organization from having to release an icon. Due to Polamalu’s retirement, Pittsburgh will incur $4.5MM in dead money, but they’ll save $3.75MM in cap space. If the transaction is processed after the May 12 deadline, the Steelers will save $6MM in cap space, and take hits of $2.25MM in 2016 and 2017.

Troy Polamalu Unlikely To Return To Steelers

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” ( 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 (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.

Pennsylvania Links: Steelers, Polamalu, Kelly

As Wild Card weekend comes to a close, a number of writers for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have written their thoughts on the end of the 2014 NFL season, and begin looking forward to all the hope that 2015 will bring. also published a few pieces regarding the Eagles’ new organizational structure.

  • Among the offseason priorities for the Steelers, the back eight on defense has to be the first thing fixed, according to Joe Starkey. The cornerback situation has been a mess, and Cortez Allen has been a tremendous disappointment. The linebackers haven’t been much better, as James Harrison approaching the end of his career and Jason Worilds performed terribly in the playoff game against the Ravens, writes Starkey. He also doubts longtime Steeler Troy Polamalu, and questions whether young players Shamarko Thomas, Jarvis Jones, and Ryan Shazier will be able to make the leap and improve the defense.
  • Of the biggest stories the Steelers will face this offseason, the futures of Allen and Worlids loom large, according to Mark Kaboly. Other big stories would be Ben Roethlisberger‘s contract situation, which could eclipse $20MM per year, and whether or not defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will return for 2015. LeBeau is 77 years old.
  • The most important change could be the Steelers moving on from Polamalu, writes Ralph N. Paulk. The former All-Pro safety is 34 years old and has two years left on his contract. Polamalu could consider retirement, but the team could also force his hand by releasing him this offseason.
  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is putting all of his eggs in the Chip Kelly basket, writes Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. He notes that Patriots coach Bill Belichick took decades before acquiring that kind of organizational control. Many other examples of these situations have gone sour before, and although Bowen believes in Kelly, the new power structure is risky.
  • The NFL draft reveals a lot about what teams are trying to do as they build towards a championship, and with Eagles head coach Kelly now in charge of personnel, we are about to find out exactly what Kelly believes in, writes Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

North Links: Steelers, Peppers, Browns

We learned earlier today that the future is uncertain for a couple of veteran Steelers defenders. Troy Polamalu and James Harrison could soon call it a career, but neither player wanted to address the speculation following their loss to the Ravens on Saturday.

“Honestly, we just lost a game,” said Polamalu (via’s Scott Brown). “I don’t think I’m prepared to even think about that or talk about that at this time.”

“We’ll see,” Harrison said. “I’m not going to answer a question [about the future] right now because I’m not in the right mind frame.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the NFL’s north divisions…

  • Packers general manager Ted Thompson probably has a “good idea” about whether he’ll have Julius Peppers back next season,’s Rob Demovsky writes. If the organization thinks Peppers can repeat his production from 2014, Demovsky believes they’ll bring the veteran (and his $9.5MM salary) back for a second year.
  • Even though the Packers are interested in extending defensive tackle Letroy Guion, that doesn’t mean B.J. Raji‘s tenure with the organization is over, writes Demovsky.
  • It’s sounding like Browns general manager Ray Farmer has zero intention of giving up on quarterback Johnny Manziel, writes Mary Kay Cabot of If the team was to move on and trade up for Marcus Mariota, Cabot estimates that it would cost three first-rounders.
  • Furthermore, Cabot says the turnaround of cornerback Joe Haden proves that the Browns shouldn’t give up on Manziel or Justin Gilbert.

Sunday Roundup: Fitz, Polamalu, Suh

As soon as Larry Fitzgerald‘s 2014 season ended with an unceremonious whimper yesterday, talk regarding his cloudy future with the Cardinals began anew. Our Luke Adams wrote that Arizona is unlikely to cut Fitzgerald, but they could trade him or ask to him to restructure his contract. Although Carson Palmer recently signed a three-year extension with the club, Fitzgerald, who of course would like to add a Super Bowl ring to his Hall-of-Fame resume, will have to consider if his odds of winning it all might not be greater somewhere else before he accepts such a restructure or pay cut (which was deemed unlikely last week).

We noted earlier this morning that the Patriots will once again emerge as a logical landing spot for Fitzgerald. Tom Brady would offer him the caliber of quarterback that he has rarely enjoyed in his career, and New England is seemingly always on the lookout for upgrades at the wide receiver position.

Any decision on Fitzgerald, of course, will likely have to be made before March, when he is owed an $8MM roster bonus. For his part, Fitzgerald says he has not thought about his 2015 destination just yet. “The taste of defeat is the only thing I can think about right now,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s all that’s on my mind. It’s been a great season competing with these fellas and this coaching staff.”

Now for some links from around the league as Day 2 of Wildcard Weekend gets underway.

  • Steelers safety Troy Polamalu says it is fair to wonder if he has played his last game, tweets Scott Brown of Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review adds (via Twitter) that there is virtually no chance Polamalu returns next season.
  • Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ponders the futures of several other Steelers veterans, including Ike Taylor and James Harrison.
  • Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweets that the Lions hope Ndamukong Suh will test his value on the free agent market and ultimately return to Detroit.
  • Suh may have a number of suitors, and although Rich Tandler of notes that Washington will have some salary cap room to work with in free agency, Suh should not be one of the team’s targets.
  • Andrew Kulp of writes that the recent front office “shake-up” in the Eagles organization, which ostensibly gave head coach Chip Kelly full control over the team’s roster, does not really present much of a change. After all, as Kulp says, “[W]hat moves have the Eagles made in the two years since Kelly’s arrival that didn’t have his fingerprints all over them?”
  • Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the 49ers‘ lack of a consistent approach to their head coaching search makes their hiring process just as difficult to understand as the decision to cut ties with Jim Harbaugh.
  • Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star lays out the difficult decisions the Chiefs have to make this offseason, including what to do with Dwayne Bowe and Tamba Hali, the release of whom could give the team some much-needed cap space.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said that suspended linebacker Daryl Washington has “protocols” to pass before he can be reinstated, and Arians, team president Michael Bidwill, and GM Steve Keim will “sit down and talk about” Washington’s future (Twitter links from Darren Urban of
  • Arians also stated that he believes Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas has a great future, which is one of the reasons Arians chose not to play him down the stretch and into the playoffs; he did not want to put Thomas through “growing pains” (Twitter link to Urban).
  • In yet another tweet, Urban reports that Cardinals wideout Jaron Brown fractured his scapula in yesterday’s loss to Carolina and is expected to be out four to six months.

Joel Corry On Worst Salary Cap Situations

On Christmas Eve, Joel Corry of CBS Sports took a look at a few NFL teams who have the worst salary cap situations going into 2015. He picked out the five organizations stuck deepest in salary cap hell:

  1. New Orleans Saints – $23.07MM over the cap
  2. Arizona Cardinals – $6.44MM
  3. Pittsburgh Steelers – $2.901MM
  4. New England Patriots – $1.945MM
  5. San Francisco 49ers – $928,000

Here are some of the highlights of actions Corry suggests that would help them get under the cap in order to have a successful offseason:


  • Pass rusher Junior Galette could see his contract restructured to open up $10MM, despite signing the extension this past offseason.
  • Another contract doled off last offseason that can be restructured is of prized free agent Jairus Byrd, which could open up $5.6MM in cap space.
  • A third contract from last offseason that can be restructured is that of tight end Jimmy Graham. That move could save $4.77MM in cap space.
  • Both of their Pro Bowl guards are suddenly highly paid luxuries as they have seen their performance drop, and Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs are candidates for release. If cut, they will free up $6.6MM and $3.6MM, respectively.
  • Veteran receiver Marques Colston holds a $9.7MM cap number, and has seen a sharp decline in his play. It will be a tougher cut, but is a candidate to be released.
  • The team could restructure Drew Brees‘ contract again, although they will only push their cap problems into the future in exchange for immediate relief.
  • Releasing linebacker David Hawthorne will free up $2.99MM in cap space if he is released before his $2.5MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2015 league year.




  • The obvious move for the Patriots would be signing Darrelle Revis to a long-term deal, which would create substantial cap space. The team is unlikely to keep him in 2015 at his current number. They will open $20MM in cap space if they do not keep him on the roster.
  • The Patriots could open up $4MM in cap space by restructuring Tom Brady‘s contract.
  • The team will likely ask linebacker Jerod Mayo to take a pay cut, or they may release him. Corry writes that his $4.5MM injury guarantee will be the only thing that potentially saves him from being released.
  • Danny Amendola will be expendable, and cutting him will free up $2.1MM in cap room or $4.5MM if he is designated a post June 1st cut.
  • Vince Wilfork could also become a cap casualty, as the team will have to decide whether to guarantee his contract for 2015 and 2016. Releasing him will free up $7.566MM in cap room.
  • The team could also recoup some money from Aaron Hernandez‘ signing bonus if the grievance ruling comes back favorable for the Patriots.


  • The 49ers could restructure Colin Kaepernick‘s contract to lower his 2015 cap number.
  • Linebacker Ahmad Brooks may be released, freeing up a little over $4MM in cap room.
  • Another staple of the team, Vernon Davis, could be released as performance has dropped. The team would gain $4.95MM from releasing him.
  • If Aldon Smith‘s off-field troubles are too much for the 49ers, the team could decline his 2015 option and pick up $9.754MM in cap space.
  • The team could pass on re-signing Michael Crabtree, and will likely cut Stevie Johnson and save just over $6MM unless they lose Crabtree and replace him with Johnson.
  • The team will most likely not seek to bring Frank Gore back to the team, unless it is at an extremely reasonable number.

AFC Notes: Sanders, Bengals, Gipson, Steelers

After joining the Broncos on a three-year, $15MM contract during the offseason, receiver Emmanuel Sanders is enjoying the best season of his career. In fact, his production will allow him to collect on several incentives that were included in his deal. Per Jason La Canfora of, Sanders can earn $250K for catching 90 passes, another $250K for scoring 14 touchdowns, and $500K for accruing 1,200 receiving yards. Currently, Sanders is posting a 67-954-7 line, so those goals remain in reach (though the TD mark will be tough to attain). At the link, La Canfora lists each increment of Sanders’ incentives in chart form. Here’s more from the AFC…

  • After missing the previous two games while dealing with an ankle ailment, Bengals right tackle Andre Smith was forced from today’s game with a triceps injury, and the team believes it could be a significant concern, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports (Twitter link). If Smith tore his triceps, he would likely miss the remainder of the season, meaning Cincinnati would turn to reserve lineman Marshall Newhouse (who was also sidelined today).
  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, had to be carted off the field during today’s game after suffering a knee injury, writes Jeremy Fowler of Losing Gipson would be a major blow to Cleveland defense that boasts the league’s seventh-best DVOA against the pass.
  • The Steelers expect safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker Ryan Shazier, both of whom have been dealing with health concerns, to return for next week’s game against the Saints, reports La Canfora. However, LB Jarvis Jones (who was placed on IR-DTR) and CB Ike Taylor might need a bit more recovery time before they return to action.
  • The Bills will host the Jets tomorrow night in Detroit due to extreme weather conditions in Buffalo, but Bills president Russ Brandon tells La Canfora that Ralph Wilson Stadium will be ready for next week’s contest against the Browns.

Fittipaldo On The Steelers

Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hosted a chat with fans this afternoon, and some noteworthy tidbits came out of it. For instance, he says it was not foolish for the Steelers to not make a run at Brandon Flowers. Flowers can make up to $5MM this year in incentives and the club has only $6MM of cap space, which it would like to keep for potential signings or extensions.

Speaking of which, Fittipaldo believes Cortez Allen may be the next player to get an extension. He writes, “[Allen] hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency but he has the raw skills to be a good corner in this defense. The last time the Steelers let a CB play out the final year of his deal [Keenan Lewis] they could not afford to keep him.”

Here are some more highlights from Fittipaldo:

  • Fittipaldo does not believe Pittsburgh is done signing free agents, but, as with most teams, any signings at this point would probably be to replace a player who gets injured in camp.
  • Brett Keisel remains a possibility for the club, but, as Fittipaldo observes, “if [the Steelers] really thought they absolutely had to have him back they would have done it June 2 when they got the cap relief.” A Kesiel signing becomes more likely if there is an injury or if the team’s younger defensive linemen do not impress in camp.
  • In response to a reader’s speculation that 2014 could be the last year for Troy Polamalu in a Steeler’s uniform, Fittipaldo notes that there is dead money on Polamalu’s contract through 2016, so if he plays well enough, there is incentive to keep him. On the other hand, he plays a position where speed and quickness is essential, and you never know “when a player’s wheels are going to fall off.”
  • As he has noted in previous pieces, Fittipaldo writes that the Steelers are changing their approach when it comes to younger players. Rather than waiting until their third year in the league to learn about them, the Steelers will throw those players into the fire and cope with their growing pains. That certainly seems to be their approach with first-round pick Ryan Shazier.
  • Fittipaldo points to the team’s lack of depth along the defensive line as a pressing concern, and, to that end, notes that NT Steve McLendon could have a breakthrough season. Considering the importance of the nose tackle in the Steelers’ defense, they desperately need him to emerge as a quality starter.


AFC North Notes: Manziel, Tucker, Polamalu

Johnny Manziel hasn’t played in an NFL game yet, but his off the field conduct has already become a point of contention in the Browns‘ organization, according to the Chicago Tribune. He has been in the news for his already legendary partying, and has come out and stated that he was not going to tone down his personality for the NFL. Manziel’s conduct is already the biggest storyline in the NFL this offseason, according to our PFR Poll, slightly edging out Andre Johnson trade rumors, Jimmy Graham‘s contract, and the Redskins’ name controversy.

Here are some other notes from around the AFC North:

  • Browns‘ head coach Mike Pettine has been impressed with the team’s two top backs, free agent signing Ben Tate and rookie Terrance West, writes Terry Pluto of The Browns attempted 681 passes in 2013, most in the NFL, and will need a strong ground game to help avoid repeating that performance next season.
  • The Ravens have a number of players who are up for contract extensions this summer, including kicker Justin Tucker, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. Tucker is coming into the final year of a three-year deal and has been one of the top kickers in the league over his first two seasons. The team is also looking to lock up Torrey Smith, Jimmy Smith, and Haloti Ngata.
  • Steelers‘ safeties Troy Polamalu and Shamarko Thomas are training together this offseason, writes Ray Frager of Polamalu invited the younger safety out to California this offseason to help bring him up to speed on the defense.

Contract Updates: Jets, Bills, Ratliff, Titans

Restricted free agent cornerback Darrin Walls agreed to a new deal with the Jets last night, and agent Jordan Woy tweets that it’s a two-year contract. Ellis Lankster, who also agreed on a new deal with the Jets, will be on a two-year, $1.63MM contract, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Lankster’s pact appears to be worth slightly more than the minimum.

With free agency looming and several players having already signed new contracts or reworked old ones, we have plenty more contract and cap updates to pass along, so let’s dive right in….

  • The Bills extended contract tenders to all four of their exclusive rights free agents, and cornerback Brandon Smith has accepted his, according to Joe Buscaglia of WGR550 (Twitter links). With Smith set to return to the team on a one-year, minimum-salary deal, offensive guard Antoine McClain, fullback Frank Summers, and wide receiver Chris Hogan will also be back in Buffalo if and when they sign their tenders.
  • Adam Caplan of (Twitter link) has the details on Jeremiah Ratliff‘s new two-year contract with the Bears. It’s worth a total of $4MM, with $600K guaranteed.
  • The cap figures on Troy Polamalu‘s new three-year contract with the Steelers are $6.387MM (2014), $8.25MM (2015), and $8MM (2016), with respective base salaries of $1.5MM, $6MM, and $5.75MM, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).
  • The Browns have extended a contract tender to inside linebacker Craig Robertson, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Robertson, who was an exclusive rights free agent, will be in line for a minimum salary of $570K for 2014.
  • New one-year deals for running backs Jackie Battle (Titans) and Bobby Rainey (Bucs) are both worth the minimum, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean and Tom Pelissero of USA Today, respectively (Twitter links). Battle’s minimum salary ($855K) is a little more substantial than Rainey’s ($570K) due to his extra years of service time.
  • Wyatt also shares (via Twitter) a few more specifics on Bernard Pollard‘s two-year deal with the Titans, which has base salaries of $1.65MM in 2014 and $3.1MM in 2015.