With linebacker Lawrence Timmons the latest player to receive a lucrative long-term deal from the Steelers, attention now turns to safety Troy Polamalu and wide receiver Mike Wallace, both of whom are entering the final years of their contracts.
But new deals for two of the Steelers' biggest playmakers will not happen this year, a league source told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.
Timmons agreed to a six-year, $50 million contract, including $18 million guaranteed, on Tuesday, making him the fourth Steeler to sign a new contract since the start of training camp. Earlier this summer, the Steelers locked up fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley to a six-year, $61.5 million deal and cornerback Ike Taylor to a four-year, $28 million pact. The team also signed offensive tackle Willie Colon at the start of training camp to a five-year, $29 million contract that includes a $6 million signing bonus.
So where does that leave Polamalu, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a key cog in the Steelers' second-ranked defense, and Wallace, the team's leading receiver a year ago?
According to the Post-Gazette, the Steelers are right up under the salary cap and have no more room to spend on big deals this year, meaning both players likely will become free agents following the season.
Polamalu refused to discuss specifics about his contract Wednesday.
"All comments about the contract stay between the Steelers and my agent. Sorry," Polamalu said, adding that he'd love to retire as a Steeler.
Wallace said he wasn't bothered by the situation.
"This is the last year of my contract," Wallace said. "I kind of want to play it out.
Polamalu offered praise to Woodley and Timmons, whom he said were deserving of their new deals.
"I think it's awesome," Polamalu said of the signings, "especially with LaMarr and Lawrence. Those guys are something to reckon with whenever (teams) play the Steelers."