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Troy Polamalu not in Steelers' plans for 2015

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Has Troy Polamalu's long and brilliant run with the Pittsburgh Steelers come to a close?

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that the organization believes the celebrated safety has played his last game for the Steelers, per a pair of team sources.

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Rapoport was told that the defender is not in Pittsburgh's plans for 2015 and won't be back. The only question is how his exit will play out.

Longtime beat writer Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette told KDKA-FM this week that the team is "hoping" the safety will retire before the Steelers have to release him.

"That is the elephant in the room," Bouchette said. "I expect him not to be here by some means. The Steelers are hoping he would retire, but I don't know if he is going to."

Polamalu, 34, has operated as the anchor of Pittsburgh's defense for more than a decade, piling up Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro ribbons since the Steelers made him the 16th overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft.

Set to count $6 million against the cap, though, Polamalu is on his way out after his play fell off a cliff last season. He openly pondered retirement after January's playoff loss to the Ravens, saying repeatedly of his playing future: "Time will tell."

Pittsburgh faces a tough task on the public-relations front if Polamalu balks at walking into the sunset. These breakups -- especially with future Hall of Famers -- are rarely kind.

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