Troy Polamalu Hall of Fame Profile: 2020 Inductee

Troy Polamalu will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2020 class, but what are his career stats, highlights, and net worth?

The 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame Ceremony will see Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu enshrined after a year’s delay. With the 2020 induction ceremony being pushed back a year, both the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame inductees will be celebrated on consecutive nights in Canton, Ohio. Let’s take a look back at Polamalu’s career, stats, highlights, and net worth after finishing his NFL career.

Troy Polamalu’s Hall of Fame career

One of the biggest honors you can give any player is to say that he is the first player opposing teams (and fans) look for before every play. That sentiment is exactly the case for Polamalu. His distinctive hairstyle and stance meant that he always stood out, whether on the field or on broadcasts. When you are the player that everyone looks for on an exceptional defense during his time in Pittsburgh, that increases the sentiment of respect even further.

During Polamalu’s time in college, he earned first-team All-Pac-10 twice. He was also named a consensus All-American in 2002. In his first year starting in 2000, he finished with 83 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 1 touchdown. He would finish his college career with 278 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions, 4 blocked punts, and 3 touchdowns.

A first-round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft

Polamalu’s story of how he ended up with the Steelers had a few twists and turns. Pittsburgh had originally agreed to sign Dexter Jackson and would look to draft a running back. However, when Jackson signed with the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers’ need for a safety in the draft increased.

Polamalu was rated as the top consensus strong safety prospect entering the 2003 NFL Draft. Therefore, when the San Diego Chargers traded down and passed on Polamalu, the Steelers traded up from No. 27 to select him at No. 16 overall. His selection marked the first time the Steelers had ever drafted a safety in the first round of the NFL Draft.

As a rookie in 2003, Polamalu would play a minor role before taking over the starting role in 2004. From that point on, Polamalu did not look back. He never failed to start another game in which he was available during the following 11 years.

Polamalu did it all in a 12-year career

Being able to contribute in different facets of a defense is extremely important. Polamalu gave a little bit of everything during his career. Since sacks have been recorded in 1960, only 37 players have both 10 or more career sacks and 25 or more career interceptions. Of those 37, only six achieved the feat while playing fewer career games than Polamalu did in his career.

The rock in a formidable Pittsburgh Steelers defense

Polamalu was a starter in Pittsburgh for 11 years — during that period, the team went to the playoffs seven times. They converted three of those seven playoff appearances into three Super Bowl berths and two victories. Along that stretch, Polamalu started all 15 playoff games, made 64 combined tackles, deflected 7 passes, and pulled in 3 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

During Polamalu’s career, the Steelers’ defense under defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was widely viewed as the best in the league. In his first year as a starter in 2004, the Steelers led the NFL in points, yards, passing touchdowns, and rushing yards allowed. Of the major defensive categories, they only ranked outside the top 10 in turnovers (11th).

That success largely continued over the following decade. Not counting his rookie campaign, where he did not start a game, the numbers for Pittsburgh’s defense when Polamalu was involved are incredible. They allowed the fewest points in the NFL on four occasions and the fewest yards five times. Just as incredibly, the defense ranked in the top five in points allowed six times and yards allowed eight times. Just once in his career as a starter, the team finished outside the top half of the league in either category.

Troy Polamalu’s stats

As an 11-year starter, Polamalu finished his career with 783 combined tackles, 107 passes defended, 56 tackles for loss, 32 interceptions, 14 forced fumbles, 12 sacks, 7 fumble recoveries, and 5 touchdowns. He was first-team All-Pro on four separate occasions and second-team All-Pro twice, making it to eight Pro Bowls along the way. In 2010, Polamalu was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Between 2003 and 2014, Polamalu ranked ninth among defensive backs in tackles and interceptions, 13th in sacks, and 20th in pass deflections.

While he never led the league in any individual category, he did set some impressive career highs. Twice in his career, he had 7 interceptions in a single season. In his penultimate season (2013), he forced 5 fumbles. Meanwhile, all the way back in his first full year as a starter, he set a career-high 97 combined tackles.

2000s second-team All-Decade

Between 2003 and 2009, Polamalu made 465 combined tackles, defended 67 passes, made 30 tackles for loss, reeled in 20 interceptions, and was named a first-team All-Pro twice. Those numbers saw Polamalu named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2000s All-Decade team. He was selected to the second team behind fellow Hall of Fame players Brian Dawkins and Ed Reed.

Troy Polamalu’s net worth

Polamalu reportedly has a net worth of $35 million as of 2021. That money has come from a combination of his career NFL earnings, endorsements, and his various business ventures.

Polamalu’s NFL contracts

As a rookie, Polamalu signed a five-year contract worth $12.1 million. Incredibly, just $445,000 of that contract was guaranteed, in contrast to the fully guaranteed contract signed by the 16th overall selection in 2021 (Zaven Collins). In 2007, he signed a four-year contract extension worth $30.2 million, with $15.4 million guaranteed. That extension made him the highest-paid safety in the league at the time.

The 2011 season would see Polamalu sign a three-year contract extension. That contract was worth $29.6 million, with an average just below $10 million per year. He would sign a final contract extension in 2014, a two-year extension worth $11.8 million. However, Polamalu would not actually play on that final extension. After the 2014 season, Polamalu retired, citing family reasons. Per Spotrac, Polamalu earned a total of $71.6 million in cash during his 12 seasons in the NFL.

When Polamalu retired, he ranked 14th among defensive players in career earnings. However, he has quickly moved down that list — after the 2020 NFL season, he ranked 49th among defensive players in career earnings. In terms of defensive backs, Polamalu earned the fourth-most in his career when he retired and remained 15th as of the end of the 2020 season.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor and the Fantasy Football Director at Pro Football Network. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN


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