Pittsburgh Steelers could face tough decision with Troy Polamalu

Outside linebacker Jason Worilds has probably played his last down for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

There have been no contract talks between the two sides, and the Steelers won’t use a transition tag to keep Worilds from becoming an unrestricted free agent on March 10.

Unless there is a sluggish market for Worilds -- something that is unlikely since he is only 26 years old and one of the better pass rushers who is poised to hit the open market -- the fifth-year veteran will be playing elsewhere in 2015.

Less certain is what will happen with strong safety Troy Polamalu.

The eight-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season in which he did not intercept a pass or record a sack for the first time since 2007. Polamalu turns 34 in April and has clearly lost a step, but he apparently has no plans on retiring.

Cornerback Ike Taylor told 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh that Polamalu is already training with the intent of playing next season.

Polamalu is still under contract with the Steelers for two more seasons, but he is due a base salary of $6 million in 2015.

That is too much money for a player whose skills have declined but it is one thing to ask Taylor to take a pay cut -- something the Steelers did last year -- quite another to do it with Polamalu.

And that is if the Steelers want Polamalu back.

If the Steelers decide it is time to move on from Polamalu, it is not without recent precedent as far as cutting ties with an iconic player. It was, after all, just three years ago that the Steelers released Hines Ward, their all-time leading receiver, even though he clearly wanted to return for another season.

Ward's exit served as a stark reminder that the Steelers rarely, if ever, allow sentiment to enter the equation when faced with tough football or business decisions.

That probaly doesn't bode well for Polamalu unless there is a compromise to be found between the 12th-year veteran and the Steelers -- in the form of a pay cut.