The Pittsburgh Steelers signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a two-year contract extension after Art Rooney II was able to get a three-year commitment out of him. They gave Head Coach Mike Tomlin a one-year extension that ties him to the team for the next three years. General Manager Kevin Colbert, meanwhile, is taking his future year-by-year from this point forward, passing the opportunity to be extended himself.
So the Steelers have to win a Super Bowl in the next three years, or so it appears to be shaping up. At the very least, it figures to be their last best chance of adding a seventh Lombardi to the trophy case in the near and foreseeable future. Every resource must be poured into the next three years to make that happen. Right?
Not according to Colbert, who went on The Fan yesterday and participated in a relatively lengthy and diverse interview spanning Steelers-related topics. One subject that he was asked about was the proverbial ‘championship window’ that has seemingly coalesced over the next three years.
“I don’t think we’ll ever sell out to win right now”, he said, referring to the practice of stocking short-term talent at the sacrifice of future development and financial flexibility. “We think we do that on a short-term basis and also protect where we want to be down the road as well”.
To that point, the Steelers routinely enter the regular season pretty close to their own personal salary cap number, and this season is no exception after making Roethlisberger one of the highest-paid players in NFL history and signing three players in free agency to relatively significant deals.
“We understand that Ben is 37 he’s moving into the later part of his career and who knows how long it’ll go”, he said, but he added that “you obviously see other quarterbacks playing into their forties and playing very well into their forties, and that’s credit to those players, Ben included”.
“I think it’s also part of current NFL football and the protection the quarterback position has gotten”, he continued. “It’s changed since the mid-2000s and I think it’s great for the game because these great players continue to play, including Ben. So again, to their credit, they’ve done what they need to do individually and I think the game protects them better. So our job is to surround them”.
The Steelers have a pretty talented roster right now on paper. There aren’t many spots on the roster that lack in both performance and pedigree, though in some cases ‘potential’ still rules the story, such as at safety.
But the team has done a good job this offseason, I think, of putting together a talented team that can compete this season without placing an undue burden on future regimes in maintaining that quality. It’s not easy to turn it around once you make that all-in commitment when your window closes. You just hope that you got at least one piece of hardware during that time to show for it.