Posted by Will Brinson
When the Steelers decided to hand 25-year-old linebacker Lawrence Timmons a six-year, $50 million extension a few weeks ago as well as give LaMarr Woodley a six-year, $51.5 million extension off his franchise-tagging, it was believed that any sort of deal for safety Troy Polamalu was probably off the table. In fact, our own Ryan Wilson first noted that the logical move would be franchising Polamalu, perhaps until he retired.
But Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Wednesday morning that the Steelers are engaging in "an 11th-hour attempt" to sign the reigning Defensive Player of the Year before the season begins.
In fact, the deal would need to be done within the next 30 (or so) hours, as the Steelers do not negotiate contract extensions during the season except in the rarest of cases. Because Polamalu and the Steelers aren't particularly close on a deal, it was just assumed that the two sides would hold off on talks until after 2011.
However, Art Rooney, according to Bouchette, had a "change of heart" last week and decided that the team should make a play for getting Polamalu locked into a deal for the remainder of his career.
It's an interesting situation because the Steelers are always careful about the long-term deals they hand out -- you'll noticed, as with the Timmons and Woodley extensions, that Polamalu's contract brought him to the age of 31. Signing the incredibly talented but oftentimes injured (just one full season since 2006) safety to an additional long-term deal at the age of 31 might seem dangerous.
Polamalu, however, embodies the Steelers organization and the difference he makes when on the field in Dick LeBeau's defense has been obvious for years.
The issue may simply be time, though, because unless the two sides are particularly close right now, it seems unlikely that they could close a deal before Week 1's action kicks off.
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