Scott Brown | ESPN.com
PITTSBURGH — More change is coming to a Steelers defense that declined in 2013, but the turnover apparently won’t include the player who has been the face of the franchise for the past decade.
“We would very much love to have Troy retire as a Steeler and expect that he will,” Rooney said during a conference call with season-ticket holders. “He’s obviously been one of the great Steelers of all time.”
Polamalu, who turns 33 in April, has one year left on his contract and is scheduled to make $8.25 million in 2014. Rooney strongly indicated the Steelers will have to restructure Polamalu’s contract to comply with the league’s salary cap, but he said the team will find a way to make it happen.
“As we try to piece together next year and our salary cap, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,” Rooney said, “but I certainly expect Troy will be one of the pieces of that puzzle.”
Polamalu told ESPN.com in late December that he planned to “honor” his contract with the Steelers, and he is coming off a season in which he played every snap and made the Pro Bowl for the eighth time. He credited his durability a year after he missed nine games because of a calf injury to in-season work with trainer Marv Marinovich as well as with his physical therapist.
The 11-year veteran finished third on the team with 69 tackles and led the Steelers with five forced fumbles. Polamalu shuttled between safety and inside linebacker — he played the latter when the Steelers employed three cornerbacks and three safeties in their quarter package — and he tied for the team lead in interceptions with two.
Polamalu played 1,041 snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the most of anyone on the Steelers.
“The great thing about this past season as far as Troy was concerned was that he played all 16 games,” Rooney said. “That’s very helpful for us when we have a player like Troy who’s able to stay healthy and play start to finish.”
- Covered Steelers for six years for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
- Author of five books, including “Heaven Sent: The Heather Miller Story,” which highlights the friendship a young girl with cancer developed with several Steelers players