With his new contract extension, head coach Mike Tomlin is assured to be around for at least the next four seasons. His deal now runs through the 2024 season. It remains to be see who else might still be here, but it’s a virtual certainty that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not be. By then, perhaps, he will be long gone as the face of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The expectation is that 2021 is Roethlisberger playing out his final season in the NFL. Or at least in Pittsburgh, based on the events that transpired this offseason. Those included his accepting a $5 million pay cut as part of a renegotiation of his contract that kept him on board for this year.
He no doubt would like to have the opportunity to continue playing in Pittsburgh until he’s ready to retire. It very well might not play out that way if he wants to continue beyond this year. But Roethlisberger believes Tomlin deserves similar treatment as head coach.
“I think he deserves to stay as long as he wants,” the 39-year-old quarterback told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday when reached for comment on Tomlin’s new extension. “I think stability is huge and underrated in this game. He will go down as one of the greats.”
Roethlisberger’s impending departure, of course, will play a major role in destabilizing the franchise, provided that they don’t have suitable replacement at the quarterback position already lined up by the time that the two sides part company, which is incredibly rare.
Tomlin first signed with the Steelers in 2007 following Bill Cowher’s retirement. He has been the team’s head coach since then, now heading into his 15th season, which will tie Cowher for the second-longest tenure in franchise history in that capacity. Chuck Noll coached 23 seasons.
As we relayed yesterday, Dulac writes that the decision to give Tomlin such a robust extension has much to do with what the organization anticipates in the future, with major events of change on the horizon. Not only will Roethlisberger be on his way out shortly, but so, too, may general manager Kevin Colbert, who is going on year-to-year contracts now. Pittsburgh recently extended Tomlin through the 2022 NFL Draft.
If they lose both Roethlisberger and Colbert within a short window, they feel they will at least still have Tomlin running the show as one of the most respected coaches in the profession (outside of his own city, at least).
Since taking over, Tomlin has posted a 145-78-1 record and a winning percentage of .650, which ranks 17th all-time, and 11th among those who have coached for at least 100 games (or seventh among those who have won at least 100). While his postseason record has dipped to just 8-8, he does have two Super Bowl appearances, and one title, with seven division titles.