It’s not always easy to get a handle on just how the Pittsburgh Steelers handle certain aspects of their business, which can occasionally deviate from the way that other teams might operate. One area that received some clarification this offseason is the fact that, for the most part, the team operates on one-year contracts for their assistant coaches, at least following an initial two-year contract.
So far this offseason, the Steelers have already walked away from three coaches whose contracts were expiring, namely offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley. Tight ends coach James Daniel retired.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the fate of some other members of the coaching staff may still be up in the air—at least for the exception of defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who was given a new one-year contract this week.
So what exactly could this mean? Truthfully, there aren’t a lot of possibilities, given the number of coaches who are already now gone. I don’t think it’s likely that they will not retain Teryl Austin, their senior defensive assistant who performs other tasks as well.
Another hire likely to remain is Karl Dunbar, who has been the team’s defensive line coach for the past three seasons. The defensive line has been one of the team’s areas of strength during that time. The newest hires, namely wide receivers coach Ike Hillard and quarterback coach Matt Canada, who is reportedly expected to replace Fichtner as offensive coordinator, figure to be safe.
So who does that leave, exactly? There’s special teams coach Danny Smith, of course, but the reality is that this was perhaps the best season on special teams that they have had under his watch, particularly with regard to the blocking on the return units.
Outside of some coaching assistants, that leaves just inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner. While Tomlin seems to like Faulkner a good bit, the team has been pretty open about the fact that the running game needs to be better. He was first hired at the start of the 2019 season.
Could we possibly see more coaching changes before the start of the new league year, meaning more coaches being informed that they are not being retained? Perhaps, but I’m not sure that I see any particular move as being likely.