It was a big deal when the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to give Mike Tomlin a contract extension. Then it was a big deal when we learned that Tomlin’s extension wasn’t for just two years straight up, but rather one year with an option year. And then, yet again, it was a big deal when we learned that the Steelers didn’t give Kevin Colbert an extension—and that it was because he didn’t want one.
And by ‘big deal’, of course, I mean people, including those covering the team, overreacting to things that are relatively minor. Colbert explained, now numerous times, that he and the organization had an understanding already in place the last time he got an extension that he would operate on a year-to-year basis from that point forward. He talked about that once again earlier today during an appearance on The Fan.
“I think it’s just a case of where we are in our lives from a personal standpoint”, he said, referring to himself and his family. “When we did the last contract, it was with the understanding that if we got to the end of that one, it would be a year-to-year basis [from that point on], and thankfully Art was agreeable to that. And that’s where we are, and there’s really nothing else to it. It’s just a personal preference. Again, this is where we are in our lives”.
He added, “I want to make sure that I’m committed totally for the purpose in 2019, and I want to make sure I feel that was in 2020 and the organization does too, so that we can continue to try to win Super Bowls”. Colbert is under contract through next year’s draft.
The Steelers are not unfamiliar with working with coaches on a year-to-year basis. That is how former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau operated for a number of years prior to himself and the team parting ways. More informally, Richard Mann was working year to year as well before retiring following the 2017 season. James Daniel is likely taking the same approach now.
Colbert, now 62, has been in football for most of his life. The Pittsburgh native played the sport, then scouted the sport, and now manages one of the most prestigious organizations in the game, which he has helped lead back to a couple of Super Bowls. Which is why the Steelers made him the first person ever to don the ‘general manager’ title in the franchise’s history.
“I think as long as we as a family feel great about what we’re doing, the organization feels good about what we’re doing, then we’ll continue to do it”, Colbert said of the future. “It makes sense for us, and again, Art agrees that we can do this on a year-to-year from this point on. Right now, again, we’re focused on 2019 and I want to feel that same way if we continue in 2020”.
I for one hope that he chooses to stick around for a few years at least. Colbert has previously said that there is no succession plan in place because he is not at that point yet, but I would imagine they may start to think about it in the relatively near future.