|Polamalu becomes wealthiest Steelers player with four-year extension|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 23 July 2007 11:45|
The deal guarantees the Steelers will keep their most versatile defensive player through the 2011 season, or when he will be 30 - meaning Polamalu could negotiate another big-money contract before his NFL career ends.
Polamalu, an All-Pro safety in 2005, already was due to make $1,088,000 in salary and $1,722,000 in guaranteed bonuses this season, for a total contract of $2,810,000 and a salary cap value of $1,632,000. His extension kicks in next season and will pay him a guaranteed $15,375,000 during the 2008-2011 seasons in guaranteed money and roster bonuses, which are automatically paid as long as he is on the team.
Previously, the Steelers' highest-paid player was wide receiver Hines Ward, who signed a four-year extension in 2005 that has a maximum value of $25.8 million and guarantees him $10 million. That deal runs through 2009.
Polamalu's signing was the second major contract deal by the Steelers in two days, but is likely to be their last before this season begins. On Sunday, they agreed to a five-year contract with outside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, their first-round draft pick, that guarantees him $12 million and could be worth as much as $15 million.
All-Pro guard Alan Faneca wanted to sign a contract extension during the offseason, but was unhappy when he was offered a deal worth less than the NFL's other premier guards.
During a May minicamp, Faneca said this will be his final season in Pittsburgh. Faneca, a five-time All-Pro left guard, is making $4,375,000 this season but could possibly make twice that as a free agent.
Polamalu, one of the most versatile players in Steelers history, was a first-team All-Pro player when Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl during the 2005 season and was a second team All-Pro in 2004. He made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons and, besides being known for the flowing black hair that streams out of his helmet, is widely regarded as one of the league's top defensive players.
Polamalu, a former Southern California player, has 10 sacks and 10 interceptions during his four-season career.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who was retained by new Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, uses the strong safety in a variety of positions, sometimes lining Polamalu up as an outside linebacker in the pass rush, on the inside on running plays or deep in a formation.
``Troy Polamalu is a very special football player who has been a key ingredient to our success over the past few seasons,'' Steelers president Art Rooney II said. ``We are excited to know he will be a Steeler for many seasons to come.''
Polamalu's contract was announced minutes before the Steelers officially opened their first training camp under Tomlin with conditioning tests, a much-dreaded drill that former coach Bill Cowher previously held on the second day of camp.