PITTSBURGH (AP) – Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller are doing their part to help the Pittsburgh Steelers get under the 2014 salary cap.
The eight-time Pro Bowl safety and the venerable tight end both signed new three-year contracts with the team on Wednesday designed to give the Steelers some cap relief before the new league year begins next week.
Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but both contracts are designed to give Pittsburgh some flexibility heading into free agency as the Steelers look for answers following consecutive 8-8 seasons.
The Steelers also cut linebacker Larry Foote, cornerback Curtis Brown and offensive tackle Levi Brown on Wednesday.
Polamalu was scheduled to make $8.25 million in 2014 in the final season of a four-year contract he signed in 2011. The 32-year-old is coming off a bounce back year in which he played in all 16 games after being limited by injuries in 2012.
The deal came hours after the Steelers re-signed safety Will Allen, meaning it’s unlikely Pittsburgh will make any attempt to bring back Ryan Clark, who will become a free agent next week.
Polamalu missed nine games in 2012 with a strained calf and revamped his offseason conditioning campaign last spring. It paid off handsomely. Polamalu picked off two passes and recorded 69 tackles while playing in every game for just the third time in the last eight years.
The 31-year-old Miller caught 58 passes for 593 yards and a touchdown in 2013 after sustaining a major right knee injury at the end of the 2012 season. He caught a season-high eight passes in a 37-27 win over Detroit on Nov. 17 that keyed a late 6-2 flourish as Pittsburgh avoided its first losing season in a decade.
The moves continued a busy week for the typically quiet Steelers. Pittsburgh tagged linebacker Jason Worilds as a transition player on Monday, with Worilds quickly agreeing to the one-year deal, opening the door for both sides to work on a long-term contract.
“Feels good to be back with the ones I bled with,” Worilds tweeted on Wednesday.
The decision to keep Worilds- who posted a career-high eight sacks in 2013 – likely means the Steelers will part with LaMarr Woodley, whose cap number in 2014 is $14.1 million. Woodley has struggled to stay healthy in recent years and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2010.
The emergence of Worilds helped make Woodley potentially expendable. The same goes for Foote, who tore the triceps in the season opener last fall against Tennessee then watched rookie Vince Williams become a steady contributor at inside linebacker next to Lawrence Timmons. Polamalu’s ability to fill Foote’s role at linebacker in dime coverage packages helped expedite Foote’s departure.
Injuries also plagued Curtis Brown during his three mostly quiet years with the Steelers. The former third-round pick showed flashes of being a special teams star but could not work his way onto the field with any regularity as a defensive back.
At least Brown had a chance to make a case for himself – for better or worse – on the field. The same can’t be said of Levi Brown.
The Steelers made the unorthodox move of acquiring Brown from Arizona in October to stabilize an injury ravaged offensive line. It never happened. Brown tore his triceps during warm-ups before his first game with Pittsburgh and was placed on injured reserve. The Steelers saved $6 million against the salary cap by paring him off the books before the new league year begins next Tuesday.
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