The Steelers have already lost two marquee players in free agency, one of which outright retired, and they cut ties with Brett Keisel, one of the franchise's most beloved and impacting players. As James Harrison and Ike Taylor are both strongly rumored to be moving on from Pittsburgh, it appears as if Troy Polamalu is the last remnant from the team's most recent Super Bowl victory.
The team has been relatively moot on Polamalu thus far, initially allegedly urging the 34-year old former Defensive Player of the Year to retire but then seemingly backtracking and remaining indecisive about his immediate future. Now, the team is exercising patience and treading lightly on the Polamalu issue, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.
"The Steelers are giving Troy the space and time he needs to make a decision that is very respectful of his 12 years with the organization," said Marvin Demoff, Polamalu's agent.
A likely candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the future, Polamalu was a devastating force of destruction in his prime but had regressed in the last couple of seasons. With a $6 million base salary for 2015, it doesn't seem likely the team will retain Polamalu at that steep of a price, especially given his age and declining production.
But, with such a decorated past and his standing as one of the most charitable, beloved figures in the history of Pittsburgh professional sports, outright cutting Polamalu isn't the preferred option with the team. Polamalu has stated he would play in 2015 if it was an "ideal" situation, but the terminology in this scenario probably won't match up on both sides. On the other hand, the Steelers have demonstrated their willingness, no matter how reluctant, to part ways with aging players who were once heroes. Hines Ward, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Harrison are examples of great Steelers players who were let go. Fortunately, the Steelers usually guess right when releasing a player, as Porter remains one of the few Steelers cuts to sign elsewhere and experience a high degree of success, which he did when he departed for Miami.
Pittsburgh will attempt to make this decision with no hard feelings involved, a fact demonstrated by their willingness to exercise patience with Polamalu. But if history is any indication of the decision that will ultimately be made, it appears as if Polamalu isn't on the right side of the fence.