Steelers Have Unusual Option Available to Move on From Mike Tomlin, Says Writer

Mike Tomlin

Getty Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers

Firing Mike Tomlin resurfaced as a possibility for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, particularly on social media, after the team lost in embarrassing fashion, 24-10, to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13.

But retired longtime Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette argued that such a move would be ill-advised considering the popularity Tomlin has nationally. Instead, Bouchette proposed the possibility of trading Tomlin.

“Those who want to see the Steelers fire Mike Tomlin are short-sighted,” Bouchette wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “If they really wanted to move on they can TRADE him. He has value.”

Trading coaches in the NFL is unusual but not unheard of. Just last offseason, the New Orleans Saints dealt Super Bowl winning head coach Sean Payton, along with a third-round draft pick, to the Denver Broncos for first- and second-round selections.

Could the Steelers Trade Mike Tomlin?

It’s important to note that Bouchette didn’t suggest that trading Tomlin is something being discussed. He didn’t even argue that the Steelers should do it. Rather, he simply tweeted it as an alternative to firing him.

If the Steelers consider a trade a possibility, though, it would likely have to happen this offseason.

To trade a coach, a team must have him under contract and Tomlin’s current deal expires after the 2024 season.

Steelers Now’s Alan Saunders wrote that seven NFL head coaches have been traded in the last 25 years.

The most famous head coach trade occurred a little more than 20 years ago. The then-Oakland Raiders received two first-round picks and a pair of second-round choices, along with $8 million, from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for Jon Gruden before the 2002 season.

Despite the steep price, it was worth it for Tampa Bay, who defeated the Raiders in the Super Bowl to cap off Gruden’s first season there.

Pittsburgh probably shouldn’t expect that kind of compensation for Tomlin. But Tomlin and Payton have similar resumes — a Super Bowl win, 155-plus regular season wins and at least 8 playoff victories.

It’s not unrealistic to think a Tomlin trade could yield the Steelers at least a first-round pick, depending on how desperate the other team would be for an established head coach.

Tomlin has posted a 170-98-2 record during the regular season with the Steelers. He has led the team to 10 playoff appearances, going 8-9 in the postseason.

NFL Teams Who Could Be Interested in Trading for Tomlin

There are already two head coach vacancies in the league — the Raiders and Carolina Panthers.

The Raiders have a reputation for being unorthodox. However, the Panthers might be the more likely team to be interested in Tomlin.

Since Dave Tepper became owner of the Panthers, Carolina has had six head coaches (counting interims) in six seasons. It wouldn’t be shocking if he pursued more stability with a coach such as Tomlin.

Furthermore, prior to buying the Panthers, Tepper was a Steelers minority owner.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on December 2 that the Panthers will court offensive-based coaching candidates in order to help quarterback Bryce Young’s development. That could rule out Carolina as a destination for Tomlin, whose background was defense.

But the Washington Commanders are another possibility, Bouchette suggested.

Washington is 4-9 and in last place of the NFC North. Head coach Ron Rivera has yet to register a winning record with the Commanders in four seasons.

In all likelihood, new Commanders owner Josh Harris will move the franchise in a new direction this offseason.

Like Tepper, prior to buying the Commanders, Harris was a minority owner of the Steelers.

Tomlin also possesses connections to the Washington area. He grew up in Hampton, Virginia, a fan of the Washington franchise. He played college football at William & Mary.

Historically, the Steelers have not overreacted to one loss or even one disappointing season.

Read More