Making Polamalu Wait Until Next Year Sends The Wrong Message

Troy PolamaluAfter the lockout ended the Steelers had five key players that they had to sort through contract wise. Two of those five players were unrestricted free agents in the form of Ike Taylor and Willie Colon. One was LaMarr Woodley who was wearing the franchise tag and the other two were players entering the final year of their contracts in Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu.

Taylor and Colon were quickly re-signed at the beginning of free agency and as expected, a new deal for Woodley followed about a week later. At that time the Steelers only had Timmons and Polamalu left on the to-do list and they chose to lock up Timmons first, as it was announced today that he received a new 6-year, $50 million dollar deal.

So that now leaves Polamalu as the last man standing on the list. Polamalu is the face of the franchise, the face of the NFL and the face of a solid human being. Since the lockout ended and Polamalu reported to camp, he has said all of the right things. He has done numerous interviews and towed the company line. He has professed his want to retire in the black and gold and has gone about preparing for the 2011 season like every other season before.

Many will argue that the Steelers should let Polamalu play out his final year under contract to prove he can stay healthy before giving him a long term deal. They will argue that despite his Hall of Fame type play over the years that Troy still has to prove he can still do it for yet another full season. I disagree.

It may have been just another preseason game to most this past week against the Eagles, but it is hard to ignore the fact that #43 was all over the place last Thursday night when he was in the game. It was classic Polamalu on display. If Troy is still not 100%, I will take whatever percent he indeed was against the Eagles and so would 31 other teams in the NFL.

While many will say that the Steelers can\’t afford to get Polamalu done now, I say they can\’t afford not to get Troy done now. For starters, he is scheduled to count roughly $8.6 million against the cap this year and a new deal will easily bring that number way down. The Steelers are currently around $2-3 million under the cap after the Timmons signing today and they could use the extra cap room in case they need to bring back Max Starks, Flozell Adams or another soon to be released lineman.

The Steelers also can\’t afford to not reward their most prized and respected possession, as all of the team is watching this situation closely. Future Steeler players are also watching this as well. What type of message does it send to the rest of the team and future players if they make Troy wait? Players will see that it does not pay to live up to the highest standards set forth by the most successful organization in the league. It sends a message that it is not what have you done for us lately, or in Troy\’s case his entire career both on and off the field, but what more can you do for us?

I certainly understand that the NFL is a business and that the older a player gets, the riskier it is to lock that player up with a big deal. Players and teams futures are at risk with every snap of the football though. It is part of the game and why players are rewarded for being on top of their game. Players like Polamalu. If you were ever going to take that risk, he is the one to take it on.

They say that nice guys always finish last and Polamalu is indeed now last. They also say that the best things are saved for last and in the case of Polamalu, I hope those best things happen in the coming days. The Steelers can certainly afford those best things and they can’t afford not to do it in my opinion.

  • Steve Duncan

    I agree, I was really hoping the would re-up with him this year as well. He like Pittsburgh and wants to stay in Black and Gold and wouldn’t chase bank-breaker money despite being probably the best defensive player in the game. Lock him up.

    That said, I don’t think it is quite that critical to let him wait. His situation is very similar to Ward’s a few years back and they got him done. I wouldn’t blame him if he held out. But that is not Troy’s way, he will sit and wait for a deal to get done.

  • Jeb064

    I understand that you want Troy signed, but who says he still doesn’t. It could happen but if not, you franchise him at the end of the season. He isn’t going anywhere. In my opinion i thought Timmons was the most important of the bunch. He can play inside or outside and we have still not seen the best of him yet. Im thrilled to have 4 out of the 5 guys signed. I never would have imagined it. I think when its all said and done Troy will get a 3 or 4 year deal. I think after this year you will be getting rid of the contracts of Aaron Smith, James Fairror and even a hines ward and James Harrison.

  • Intropy

    I agree with you on Troy’s tremendous value and that he is a football paragon. But I disagree on the sentiment that a bad message is being sent. It’s not just that NFL is a business. “What can you do for us?” is a good message. Troy has already been payed for his prior service. You pay him now for what you think he’s can bring again, you don’t pay him for the past a second time.

    The Steelers organization doesn’t owe Troy monetarily for the past, what they awe him is loyalty, respect, and friendship. I don’t think for one second that each side of the relationship doesn’t know how the other feels. The Steelers love Troy, and Troy loves the Steelers. And both sides have earned that. I think both sides have enough trust not to be worried about the other’s intentions. A delay doesn’t change that. The two sides will negotiate in good faith. Maybe that doesn’t conclude with him remaining a Steeler, despite the best intentions the parts don’t always fit, but somehow I think they’ll work out something with which both sides will be happy.

  • Joe Bu

    At Dave B. – Thanks for all you do and the Podcasts are great. Normally I agree with almost everything you say, but disagree on this. Sure, I’d love to have Troy locked in, but I’d like to have him be more of a lock to be on the field healthy too. Last 4 years he played 11,16,5,14 games respectively and how many of those were banged up – when we saw him missing tackles he would never miss if even 75% healthy. He’s 30 and I’d like to see him have a healthy season before locking up someone that is nutoriously hurt. As it is, worst case, the Steelers franchise him next year at the extra cost and that has bought us 2 years. I’m not a big fan of locking in a long term contract on a guy that would be 32 with 10 years in the league, averaging being hurt significantly half the time.

  • Troy Tabloter

    Sorry Dave, but I think you’re way off base. Troy has been part of the Steelers’ organization for a long time. He’s seen many others wait, to finally get a franchise tag, and then get resigned.

    You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, and maybe Troy would be looking at less than 8.6 million if he were to resign with a new reworked long-term contract. Perhaps Troy is playing the waiting game for the bucks this year.

    He’s also a torn heel away from seeing his career end far too early. I’m sure he understands that his performance this year has to be matched with the number of games played for his effectiveness to be properly measured. He’s worth whatever he wants if he plays 16 (19?) healthy games this year. He’s worth far, far less if he’s only in 7-9 games….

  • Jjt11

    He has made $30+mm the last 4 years. I think the Steelers have paid him for his services, and paid him well. This next contract is about what he is going to do for the next 4 years and I think that is far from certain given his injury history. Plus, nobody knows what Troy is asking for, if he wants to be the highest paid S in the league that is not happening with the Steelers.

  • Meatrack

    I agree that Troy is one of the highest priorities the Steelers have, but this seems like a bit of a stretch….

  • Joe D

    It’s a business….
    and from a negotiation standpoint, Steelers are doing the right thing… Troy is older than Simmons or Woodley… he has had injuries the last couple years…
    This year will determine the $$$$.
    They can franchise him and then negotiate just like Woodley..
    I see no problem…. Troy will retire a Steeler.

    And I agree with Jeb…. need to unload Aaron Smith, James Farrior, and Hines Ward. Time for the youth movement to step in. This also frees up lots of CAP space to get a top notch CB!!

  • Yes, Troy was all over the place against the Eagles – so what? Troy starts out every season at a high level. Troy is needed the most during the post season, which is the time of year he tends to be on the mend.

    Based on Troy’s injury history, he may only have two good seasons left in the tank. As others have said, the smart move is to let him finish out this contract, place the franchise tag on him, then go forward from there.

  • I really don’t think the Steelers mean any disrespect, or are taking a ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach. I just think everyone else was up for their 2nd deal while troy is up for his 3rd, and by that logic, the rest of the team should take satisfaction that the steelers are taking care of ALL their guys in order rather than just one or two.

  • Why not? Safeties aren’t paid very high and making him the highest paid safety might take less than you think, they make significantly less than top paid CB’s or LB’s.

  • Good point on the first part tho, see this article from 4 years ago, you basically took the words out of troys mouth: “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.”

  • John B

    its a business and some people have to wait, some have to take a hometown discount, some have to take cuts. It’s no disrespect on the players. Troy knows this. The Smart players know this. I dont know this off the top of my head but how many players over 30 get their deals years in advance?

  • Jeb064

    I believe Eric Weddle is now the highest paid safety at 5 years 40 million. I think franchising Troy would prob only be around 7 million at his position. Who is to say he wouldn’t break the bank though. When he signed his last contract it made him the highest paid safety at the time. In all honestly though he could ask for 10 million a season and he deserves it even though he wont do that. I think all four of the guys gave us hometown discounts. Woodley and Timmons are now locked up for the next six years for 111 million. I am not knocking this deal but Larry Fitzgerald siging for 8 years 120 million, which would you rather have those two players or Fitzgerald? Even Joe Thomas 7 years 84 million is a boatload of money. We were lucky signing Timmons and Woodley for this price. Even Colon and Ike left more money on the market.

  • Smittyflash24

    the right move….steelers will lock up troy in the off season….then we can free up money,players like….j.farrior,j.harrison.c.hampton,a.smith and h.ward can re-structure their contracts to make room to sign troy and m.wallace

  • Daddeeekip

    First off you are way off base on your editorial, TP is the face of this organization and realizes his value to this franchise and the same with him. Getting a Timmons deal done first was asmart thing to do business wise. If Timmons does have this breakout season as predicted his services would be grossly over paid for next year. The Steelers don’t need to go into a bidding war and over pay for a talent that should stay with the Steelers defense. TP will get his deal done and will get a fair value for his services cause he appreciates what the Steelers have done for him and the likewise to his financial future. He understands the business side and will be taken care of. He wants to retire a Steeler and will not hold the Steelers to a king’s ransom to resign him

  • the most important thing in the matter is that they are all extremely overpaid. i love professional sports as much as anyone but i get so sick of salary discussions as there is nobody worth a million a year much less more. it is absolutely stupid for these kind of salaries to be given or yet demanded. However, it isn’t going to ever stop and i know that. but i still want to puke everytime i see an article or espn clip about who are the most underpaid players,etc. there is no such thing

  • Shags Cents

    we cant allow emotions to get involved in resigning players…I believe troy has maybe 3 good years left barring injury and looking at his history I doubt that he will have 3 full years of service. I love how he plays the game and would love to keep him a Steeler but we have to remember…if he is being paid 8M that means there maybe 3-4 guys that could help us out that cant because of what he is payed…I hope Polo stays healthy and can stay a Steeler but that is the fairytale ending…Im hoping for the fairytale.

  • Steve Duncan

    While you have a point, the fact is, us watching generates billions, and they are paid commensurate with that. It’s not going to change as long as TV contracts number in the billions per year.

  • Meatrack

    He IS the best safety in the league and the Steelers will probably pay him as such.

  • Mentalben

    I would guess when people say the Steelers can’t afford to pay Troy now it relates to the up front money and not the salary cap number, which as you correctly point out, would almost certainly come down as a result of an extension.

    I’m with you on re-signing Troy now, but I think you missed out probably the most important reason. If you extend a player before his contract is up he will almost always take less money in favour of job security. If you wait til they’re out of contract, it’s gonna cost you more.

    I’m sure a deal could be done, financially speaking, especially if they can work in guaranteed bonuses this year and next rather than paying Troy all of that cash up front. I see no reason why they couldn’t pay him his scheduled 2011 salary up front as a bonus this year and tack on some more guaranteed money for next year if the purse strings are now tight. They were going to pay him that money anyway.

    What I would like to see, and it’s something I think every player on the Steelers would understand, is an exception made to their not negotiating in season, if it should come to that. There are extraordinary circumstances with the labour dispute this season and Troy is THE man in Pittsburgh.

  • Faenor2525

    Don’t get your panties in a twist. The Steelers will franchise him, just like Woodley, and continue to work out a long-term contract, quietly and continually, behind the scenes. Troy will be richly rewarded just as LaMarr was. Woodley did it the right way. He quietly deferred questions about his contract, never complained about it, always said that he knew the Steelers would take care of him and was the utmost professional when discussing it. Troy will act the same and will be rewarded the same. Sometimes you just can’t do everything you want in a given year. It’s not as if the Steelers are printing money or anything……patience……it’ll get done……patience…

  • SteelersDepot

    If you read back through the blog you will see that I have no doubt they will get him locked up by this time next year with the franchise tag at their disposal. The preface of this post was to see he shouldn’t have to wait until then.

  • Riftwar1974

    If they don’t make him the highest paid safety in the league then they have no idea what he is worth. The steelers can’t afford to play without him. Just look at their winning percentage with and then without him.

  • ma

    As a Steeler fan, living in another state, I am very unhappy with this treatment of Troy Polumalu. Why would they do such a thing?

    Don’t repeat the disgusting “it’s business”. It is rotten business if that is what you think.

    Is this the way the Steelers treat their fans and beloved players?
    Are the Rooney’s so money addicted as to the it’s business motto that they want to be seen as the Bank of America of football.

    The organization has a player that exemplifies everything the Steelers and Rooneys preach about: values, work ethic, leadership, success and character. Are they hypocrites? Sues sounds like it.

  • I absolutely agree with this article. Troy has proven himself, on and OFF the field. He is the poster player of what an NFL player should be like. He leaves it all on the field, healthy or injured. He is a not a good human being, he is a great one. He is the definition of what children (future NFL stars) should strive to achieve to be like. KHAN RE-SIGN TROY NOW!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t treat him like Greg Lloyd was treated back in the 90’s, it sends the wrong message!!!!!!

  • Disagree with Joe D! Drop McFadden and re-sign Troy. Troy will leave money on the table to retire as a Steeler. That will open the money up for a better CB and leave some for a replacement OL (God knows we will probably need one of those this year)!

  • troyshair

    You bet it sends the wrong message. I feel under appreciated. They’re gonna have to offer me a separate contract next year to make up for it.

  • Pounds_shirley

    What ever you do please do not loose Polamalu. The two that is all over the field is Polamalu and Ward. I have been a steelers fan for 15 years and I seen them come and go. I do not want to see my two top guys go. I love my steelers and I will always be a steelers fan.