The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed a head coach to enter a season with two years remaining on his contract was the 2006 season. Head Coach Bill Cowher was coming off his first and only Super Bowl victory, and the franchise’s first since the 1979 season. Though he was under contract for 2007, he elected to retire, though there was more to that story.
Generally, however, the organization has consistently set the precedent of giving their head coaches a contract extension in the season in which they enter with two years remaining on their contract. For current head coach Mike Tomlin, that was 2019, and the team did give him an extension, even though there was much speculation that they would not.
The Steelers are coming off a 9-6-1 campaign, failing to make the postseason for the first time since 2013. It’s not just the record, and the lack of the postseason, however, but rather the fact that they collapsed at the end of the year that has had many scratching their heads and wondering if the team would play out this year to see how Tomlin rebounds before tying him up for additional years.
Many even read into early comments by Art Rooney II in the offseason back in February when he would not adamantly and definitely state that Tomlin would be extended, at the same time that he was talking about getting Ben Roethlisberger locked in for additional seasons.
Rooney merely explained that the conversations about contracts between himself and Tomlin take place in July, and negotiations follow shortly thereafter. Consistently, that is when extensions with himself and Kevin Colbert have gotten done.
And it did get one once again, but this time it was only a one-year extension, tying him to the team through 2021, plus a one-year option year after that. Recently, Andrew Stockey of WTAE asked the team president if that was to send a message.
“These things, it’s a two-way street”, Rooney said. “Every year’s a little different. We actually did a one-year extension plus a one-year option. I think it sets us up well for the future”.
Stockey followed up by asking Rooney if Tomlin’s option year was an option for “both sides”, and he said that it is. This contradicts a report for Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, who reported that he had been told it was a club option. But I’m inclined to believe the guy who signs the paychecks.
Essentially, Rooney seemed to be downplaying any notion that the Steelers were in any way unsatisfied with Tomlin as a head coach. Bouchette also previously reported that “some” of the team’s minority owners, who are limited partners with no formal power, were against giving him an extension.