Pittsburgh chose the up-and-coming stars over the established veteran.
Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley are two of the best linebackers in the league. And they will be for years to come. Both were signed to long-term deals in August.
Polamalu, perhaps the best defensive weapon in the NFL, will be a free agent after this season. He may not return unless Pittsburgh puts the franchise tag on him.
And unless the 30-year-old Polamalu is willing to work in Pittsburgh for a discount, he will likely sign in Dallas, Arizona, Oakland or New York for big money. But the Pittsburgh Steelers will have gotten the most out of the dynamic star.
Management should not squander a big contract on an oft-injured player with less than five years of shelf life left —especially when emerging deep threat Mike Wallace is going into a contract year. The Steelers already made Polamalu the highest-paid safety at the time in 2007, when he signed a five-year $33 million deal.
Pittsburgh usually says goodbye at the right time. Critics might say Polamalu could be the next Rod Woodson, who had productive years with several other teams after leaving the Steel City. But if the Steelers would have kept Woodson, they may not have been able to sign Jerome Bettis.
Maybe Polamalu will fall in the footsteps of Bettis and Hines Ward. Both of those men took less money to stay in Pittsburgh. But I wouldn’t blame the best safety in football for demanding more money, either. The Steelers, however, shouldn’t dish it out this time.
(City Editor Rick Kazmer can be reached at email@example.com. Read his blog “The Kazmer Report,” at dailyamerican.com. Smartphone users, scan the QR code at left to go to the blog.)