Extension for Troy Polamalu done for the right reasons

Karl Walter

The Steelers front office made the decision yesterday to extend safety Troy Polamalu's contract until 2016. This shows a sense of loyalty rare in today's NFL.

Put your hands up if the news of Troy Polamalu’s contract extension had you fist pumping your way home? Of course it did. The new deal will keep him in Steelers uniform until at least 2016. I say at least because who knows, maybe Polamalu can make like he’s Brett Favre and play until he’s 43 (get it?).

On the practical side what this does is make his $10 million cap hit for 2014 a far more digestible $5.5 million, inching the Steelers closer to cap compliance. It also locks up one of the best defensive play-makers in the game for two more years.

Polamalu has still got some juice left in the tank, and the Steelers need players of his caliber, not to mention his demeanor, if they are to right the ship this season.

And on a personal note, this gives me two more years to buy a #43 jersey (already got #7 and #84).

I never for a second believed the Front Office were going to entertain the possibility of cutting Troy Polamalu. But it is always nice to get some reassurance. This deal has several practical implications as mentioned, but it goes above and beyond that, this deal was done for all the right reasons.

Loyalty is a cursed word in the NFL. It is usually used in a derogatory fashion to insinuate that a team has held on to a player too long. Players rarely spend their careers with one franchise any more for a number of reasons. Usually as they age the team balks at paying a high salary to an old creaky veteran, and he has too much pride to accept a lower, more practical offer. We see this all the time. We seen it with Dwight Freeney last season, and we’re probably about to see it with Demarcus Ware shortly.

While I did not believe he would be cut, there was a genuine fear that at some point down the line Polamalu may be donning another jersey at the end of his career, this deal virtually eliminates that fear.

Polamalu has meant too much to this franchise. He has meant too much to the Rooney’s, and too much to the fans. Throughout his career he has shown unconditional loyalty, humility and a quiet leadership, and in return he will be allowed to retire in the Black and Gold. This is the ultimate show of loyalty from the Rooney’s.

Maybe wiser heads didn't prevail. Maybe Polamalu’s play falls of a cliff next year and we’re saddled with some portion of dead money for a couple of years. I honestly do not care. I can truthfully say I would sooner have Troy Polamalu’s iconic hair flying around the field and in the locker room than an extra $3 million or whatever in cap space.

Maybe a more business savvy team would have pushed Polamalu out the door and aggressively pursued youth at the position, or angled a trade or whatever. But this is the Rooney’s, they stood by their man just as he has stood by the franchise all these years, leaving his heart and soul and hair on the field.

Loyalty is a rare commodity these days, and indeed maybe it is a foolish one. But this is one of those rare deals where everything just feels right, likely because it was done for all the right reasons.

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