The Pittsburgh Steelers are in uncharted territory in a number of ways this offseason. Not only are they in search of a new franchise quarterback, they are also looking for a new general manager, with Kevin Colbert announcing earlier this offseason that he would be stepping back from that role.
While he has not said whether or not he is retiring, leaving the door open to remain in some alternative capacity, the reality is that change is on the horizon. To that end, the Steelers, with Colbert intimately involved, have conducted an extensive search for their next general manager.
They have interviewed 16 candidates, including two internal candidates, numerous executives currently employed by other teams, and other potential candidates who are not currently with an NFL team. They have only conducted one round of interviews, and will not resume for a second round until after the 2022 NFL Draft.
One candidate who was not even the running eliminated himself this week. That would be head coach Mike Tomlin, who has always been very involved in the personnel department. Speaking during the annual league meeting, when he was asked if there was any chance he would take on that role, like Bill Belichick in New England, he said, “Absolutely not. I love coaching football. I’m kind of a singularly-focused type of a guy”.
Belichick not only serves as head coach and general manager, he is also defensive coordinator and calls the plays for the defense. Tomlin does call the Steelers’ defense, something that he has done for roughly the past decade or so, including the entirety of Keith Butler’s tenure as defensive coordinator.
Some have fantasized about the very unlikely possible future in which Tomlin transitions into the general manager role and allows Brian Flores to take over at head coach. This is similar to a strategy Marvin Lewis once planned for Hue Jackson while they were with the Cincinnati Bengals, which did not come to fruition because owner Mike Brown was unwilling to commit to the succession plan in writing.
Don’t count on that happening. While it shouldn’t be surprising to anybody, I think we can safely surmise that Tomlin is probably going to remain as head coach until he decides to retire. He is already under contract through 2024, which would give him 18 years on the job—three more than his predecessor, Bill Cowher.
While he is still young enough for it to be realistic, Tomlin is not going to be a guy who stays on as head coach for 30 years. Who knows if he even signs another contract after this? Whether or not they land a franchise quarterback between now and then may be the ultimate deciding factor—after his wife’s input, at least.