With the current state that the Steelers are in with a new coach, a new playbook on offense, and a division with two other teams that have continue to give the black and gold fits, there is one thing the Steelers need to do now to set their course in the right direction. Give Troy Polamalu an extension. If the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to succeed in the hostile AFC North with the pesky Bengals and brash Ravens, there is no question they cannot afford to let their best defensive player reach free agency at the end of 2007.
Sure they could start the game of placing the franchise tag on Troy, and that would be fine, as it would basically force him to stay in Pittsburgh. But why the team would want to even play around with such a notion would be beyond me. The key to a defense that has already lost Joey Porter and last season was not as good as in years past is a safety in Polamalu that can make plays all over the field.
Early indications is that the Steelers are going to run all kinds of different looks on defense in 2007, with multiple players playing the “roaming” role that Troy has played so well in that past. That is fine. In allowing Troy the option to roam or to play his safety spot, he becomes that much more of value to the Steelers. Don’t also forget at that point he can become a teacher to those players that are trying to learn the role. Let’s face it, how distracting is it to an opposing QB to see Polamalu race up to the line the moment before the snap of the ball, surely to cause havoc.
The team has already released emotional defensive leader Joey Porter, and frankly, that is okay. Sure it would be great to have Porter around, but let’s be real, he was not as disruptive last season as in year’s past, and a recent CBS Sportsline column labeled him “The most overrated player in the game.” While I would not push it that far, I do think that even at 30 years old, Porter maybe is losing a step, and has seen better days. Then there is the firestorm over the whole Alan Faneca situation. The offensive linemen wanted a new deal, the Steelers didn’t give him one, so now he is going on record stating that 2007 will be his last year in Pittsburgh. Once again, those things will happen. Would love to have Faneca back in 2008, but if not, life will go on.
As for Polamalu, replacing a player that is as dedicated, loyal, and as good as Troy is not going to be easy. He is without a doubt the best player on defense, and for a team that plans on running as many formations as the Steelers, his extension is a must. It won’t be cheap for the Steelers, but the alternatives are a bit scary with Polamalu in a different uniform.
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