It was big news in Pittsburgh Steelers country when the team announced that they had agreed to a new contract extension with 12-year veteran head coach Mike Tomlin. It was also big news when that extension was reported as being just for one additional year (for three in total), plus one option year.
According to Gerry Dulac, he has been told that this is not the first option year that Tomlin has had in his contract. He shared via Twitter last night that his most recent contract held within it an option year that included a win-total trigger. What he doesn’t say, or at least make clear, is whether or not he actually successfully hit that trigger.
Per source: Mike Tomlin actually had an option year in the contract previous to existing one that was triggered based on number of victories. His current contract, including the extension, does not include that type of incentive.
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) July 26, 2019
The problem is that this is not new information. We knew this at least back in 2017, according to an article on NFL.com, with Conor Orr relaying information reported by Ian Rapoport that he, following a 11-5 regular season record in 2016, had triggered the option for the 2019 season. In other words, Tomlin actually entered the 2017 season with three years remaining on his contract, following the option being triggered by hitting a specific win total.
The relevant bit that Dulac did share is in saying that this option year is unlike the previous one that he successfully triggered in 2016. It appears that this one is either a club or coach option (one would guess club option) rather than one passed on achieving some incentive.
Regardless of how it shakes out, it now means that Tomlin is under contract for the Steelers through at least the 2021 season, and potentially beyond if the option year is picked up (it’s also not clear when or even if there is a deadline for picking it up). That will have put him in Pittsburgh for 15 seasons, or exactly as long as the tenure of his predecessor, Bill Cowher, before he retired. Cowher was the same age as Tomlin when he first took the job.
Some, including our own Dave Bryan, have wondered if this might be the last contract that he signs with the Steelers, not because the team no longer wants him, but because he wants other things for himself and his family. There is no way of knowing this until we get to a few years from now, of course. Even the coach himself will not know at this current time.
Through his first 12 seasons, Tomlin has posted a record of 125-66-1 in 192 games coached, tying him for the 27th-most wins in NFL history (and third-most in Steelers history). He could realistically move into 23rd place this year, but at 22nd stands Tony Dungy with 139 wins, so he would have to go 15-1 to pass him. Tomlin has the 15th-best winning percentage in NFL history, or 11th-best among those who have coached 100 or more games.