‘We’ll See:’ Team President Art Rooney II Doesn’t Commit To Mike Tomlin Contract Extension

With the Pittsburgh Steelers failing to win a playoff game since 2016 and just one AFC North crown over the past five seasons, some fans wonder if Mike Tomlin is no longer the right answer for the franchise. Speaking on Tomlin’s future, Team President Art Rooney II didn’t commit to giving Tomlin a contract extension this offseason.

“I don’t like to speculate on our coach’s contract,” Rooney said via 93.7 The Fan Thursday. “So we’ll see.”

Not exactly the most ringing endorsement of a head coach. But as Rooney hinted at, he doesn’t like to discuss contracts in the public so playing down the question shouldn’t set off alarm bells.

To this point, Rooney hasn’t said or done anything that suggests Tomlin’s time in Pittsburgh is running out. He received a three-year contract extension in April of 2021 that runs through the 2024 season. If an extension occurs this year, it will either happen in the spring or the summer before training camp opens up.

While Tomlin is viewed as a face of the franchise bringing the team through the post-Roethlisberger era, the Steelers’ lack of postseason success – the standard they’re measured by – is concerning. Their last playoff win came in 2016. Since, they’ve been upset in the Wild Card round by the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, blown out in a Wild Card contest against Kanas City, and failed to make the playoffs in two other seasons, including this 2022 campaign.

The good news over 2022 is how the team finished, going 7-2 after the bye, ending the year 9-8 and almost making the playoffs. Throughout the interview, Rooney pointed to that finish as an encouraging sign of the future and testament to Tomlin’s ability to keep the locker room together.

“I think the number one thing I always want to see in a team, and I think that it’s up to the coach to make this happen, is get better as the season goes on. I mean, you should be your best team at the end of the season. And so, I thought we did that. Bringing a rookie quarterback along, I think as I said before, there’s no one way to do it right. We wound up with a rookie quarterback who got better as the season went on. And I think we’re excited about the future because of that. I think those things are encouraging the way Mike handled them.”

And while the Steelers have struggled to be playoff relevant, Rooney is focused on the path forward.

“I don’t look too far backwards. I gotta look at next year and what we can do to get better next year and that’s gotta be our focus.”

Pittsburgh has a chance to hit the ground running in 2023. With an offense that will remain intact and young players like QB Kenny Pickett and WR George Pickens expected to make big second-year jumps, the unit should be more potent. Defensively, core pieces are in place with the chance for the team to upgrade in free agency and the draft, where the team will have three top 50 selections. But the AFC North and AFC at large is a looming obstacle and the Steelers will have to prove they can compete with the top quarterbacks around. Because those guys aren’t going anywhere.

Again, check out Rooney’s full comments in nearly a 30-minute interview by clicking the link here.

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