It is now Thursday afternoon and we’re a good 44 hours into the 2015 league year. By now, I was almost certain we would have some clarity on the situation with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, but that isn’t the case.
On Monday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert released a very peculiar short statement about Polamalu’s status. He basically told us that there is no update and that the organization will continue to communicate with the veteran safety and his representatives.
On Thursday, Polamalu’s agent addressed his clients’ current status in an email to ESPN.com.
“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,” agent Marvin Demoff said in the email.
The Steelers obviously would like Polamalu to retire or take a pay cut if he is to stay with the team one final season. Polamalu is scheduled to earn a base salary of $6 million in 2015 and the Steelers can save that full amount in cap space by releasing him with a June 1 designation. The Steelers, however, would save $3.75 million in cap space should Polamalu retire or be released without a later time designation.
Knowing that, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that the Steelers would like Polamalu to take a $3 million pay cut in order to stay. Could the safety get another team to pay him more than $3 million for one season if released? I suppose it’s possible, but there cant be many teams outside of the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts that might want to do that.
Word is that Polamalu would also like to play for a team that can compete for a championship in 2015, so that would also probably again limit things for him outside of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers restructured the contract of center Maurkice Pouncey this week and that move created an additional $3.8 million in salary cap space. While the team currently doesn’t have a ton of salary cap space to work with right now, they do have enough to sign a few lower-priced free agents over the course of the next several weeks.
So what does this all mean? Right now it looks like some sort of awkward standoff between the two sides. Polamalu looks like he is daring the Steelers to cut him while the Steelers look like they are threatening to keep Polamalu until after June 1st in an effort to lower his value and chances of catching on with another team. Notice I said, “looks like.”
What should the Steelers do? In my opinion, they should do whatever Polamalu wants them to do. In other words, if he is declining a pay cut, but still wants to play, go ahead and release him so he can do just that. Maybe Polamalu hasn’t really decided what he wants to do just yet as Demoff stated in his email. If that’s the case, we might have to wait a while longer to find out how all of this is going to end.