The Pittsburgh Steelers hope Troy Polamalu retires so they are not forced to release him, a source close to the iconic safety confirmed to ESPN.com.
Polamalu remains undecided about his future, according to the source, but he is considering suiting up in 2015 to show the Steelers that he can still play. The situation, however, would have to be right, the source said, for Polamalu to play for another team after spending 12 seasons with the Steelers.
"Troy is still determining whether he wants to retire or try and play in 2015," his agent, Marvin Demoff, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We will make a decision fairly soon, but (it is) not imminent."
Pittsburgh is preparing to move on from the player who has long been one of the faces of the franchise. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had earlier reported the Steelers' desired intention to move on from Polamalu.
The Steelers are trying to get younger on defense and need to see what they have in 2013 fourth-round draft pick Shamarko Thomas.
Thomas has played primarily on special teams in his first two seasons, as he has been blocked from regular playing time by Polamalu and Will Allen, another veteran safety.
Polamalu, who will turn 34 in April, is due a base salary of $6 million in 2015 and still has two years left on his contract. But 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.
He also missed four games in the second half of the season because of a knee injury.
The iconic Polamalu was one of the cornerstones on the defenses that led the Steelers to two Super Bowl victories and three appearances in the NFL's showcase event from 2005 to 2010. His 40-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 2008 AFC Championship Game helped clinch a 23-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Two seasons later, Polamalu won NFL Defensive Player of the Year after he intercepted seven passes and recorded 82 tackles and a sack.
Polamalu's sack-strip of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in 2010 propelled the Steelers to a 13-9 win in Baltimore and an AFC North title.
The Steelers made another run to the Super Bowl that season but were denied a seventh world championship in a 31-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Polamalu is widely considered one of the top two safeties of his generation and a future Pro Football Hall of Famer. The 2003 first-round draft pick is tied for seventh on the Steelers' all-time interceptions list with 32.
He also has 13 forced fumbles, 11th in franchise history, and seven career fumble recoveries.