The Pittsburgh Steelers’ four consecutive seasons of reaching the playoffs between 2014 and 2017 was the first stretch of more than two seasons in Mike Tomlin’s tenure as head coach, and the longest for the Steelers since the beginning of Bill Cowher’s career here, when he made it in his first six seasons.
Despite the fact that the team has been more successful than most other teams during the past five years (only four teams in total have reached the postseason in at least four of the past five years), Tomlin has been under fire for nearly every corner, and part of the reason for that is because this would be an offseason in which the team would traditional complete a contract extension with him.
Even President Art Rooney II would avoid directly committing to giving Tomlin an extension this offseason, a notion that I thought not that significant quite frankly but at least worth noting. Extensions for head coaches and general managers have traditionally been done in the summer, after the draft and everything else has been taken care of.
But veteran Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette, however, is among those who believe that we don’t see the team sign him to an extension this year, which would allow him to play into a situation in which he enters 2020 with one year left on his contract, potentially as a lame duck. He likened it to the end of Cowher’s tenure in Pittsburgh on Pro Football Talk Live.
“It worked that way with Bill Cowher. He had two years left on his contract, and that’s when they normally negotiate an extension, and they didn’t do one after he won a Super Bowl”, he said. “And he went into that last season and he decided that he didn’t want to sign with them because he felt that they didn’t negotiate well enough”.
Cowher’s Steelers finally won the Super Bowl in 2005, toward the end of his tenure, a year after going 15-1 but losing in the AFC Championship game. They were bad enough the year before that, however, to have the 11th-overall pick. Tomlin’s Steelers missed the playoffs, but had a 9-6-1 record.
“And Mike is now going into his last two years and he didn’t make the playoffs last year”, Bouchette noted. “So I would bet we’re not going to see a contract extension for him and then he’ll have one year left and who knows what can happen? This is a big year for them and him”.
Personally, I’m still taking the wait and see approach. My guess would be that he does get extended this offseason, in the summer when everything else is taken care of. But that could be contingent upon how he handles the next few months, and particularly Antonio Brown’s situation. He’ll have to have a talk with Rooney, but I think it gets taken care of.