Thoughts on Troy Polamalu's future

The Pittsburgh Steelers secured two of their top young linebackers by extending the contracts of Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley. They signed a pair of six-year contracts worth a total of $111.5 million.

That leaves Pittsburgh Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu as the last key player entering the final year of his contract. Will the Steelers also re-sign Polamalu this season?

Although nothing is set in stone, I don't expect Pittsburgh to work out a new deal with Polamalu this year. The updated cap numbers after the Timmons and Woodley extensions are not yet available. But there's likely not enough room for a third mega deal with Polamalu.

The contracts for Timmons and Woodley are both in the $9 to $10 million per year range. Polamalu should command similar money. The Steelers can't pay everyone at the same time.

Time is also of the essence. The regular season starts in a little more than two weeks, and Pittsburgh usually doesn't negotiate contracts once the games begin. Therefore, Polamalu's situation probably won't be addressed this season if a deal isn't reached by Sept. 11.

The franchise tag is a strong possibility. I anticipate the Steelers will approach Polamalu's contract next year similarly to the way they handled Woodley's status. Don't be shocked if Polamalu gets the one-year franchise tender in 2012 to buy time to work out a long-term extension.