Speaking to reporters on January 26, 2023, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II declined to “speculate” about whether the team will sign head coach Mike Tomlin to a contract extension this year. But in his January 31 column for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Gerry Dulac insists that Tomlin’s job not only “looks safe,” another contract extension is forthcoming, likely sometime before the beginning of the 2023 season.
“And, when it does, the extension will further infuriate that segment of the fan based that points to the Steelers not winning a playoff game in six years — the franchise’s longest drought since the 1970 merger — and hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in 12 years,” notes Dulac.
But that matters not to Art Rooney II, who recently addressed Tomlin’s contract situation and told Steelers.com: “I don’t really evaluate Mike on anything other than I’m glad he’s our coach. Hopefully he’ll be our coach into the future. He gives us a chance to win, year in and year out, and put us in a position where we have a chance to compete for a championship.”
But if Tomlin is now head coach for “as long as he chooses” (as Dulac puts it), fans must hope that he maintains his record of coaching success better than Chuck Noll, who coached the Steelers for 23 seasons (1969-1991).
Chuck Noll Won 2 Playoff Games in His Last 12 Seasons
In his last 12 years as head coach, Noll’s teams made the playoffs just four times and produced just two postseason victories, one in 1984 and another in 1989. More notably, the Steelers stuck with him until he retired following the 1991 season, having failed to make the playoffs in six of his last seven seasons, as per Pro Football Reference.
On the other hand, Tomlin has produced more consistent results than either of his two predecessors, having delivered a .500 or better record in all 16 of his seasons as head coach. Also, his .636 winning percentage is better than that of both Bill Cowher (.623) and Noll (.566), both of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One thing that could conceivably give Art Rooney II pause is money, as Tomlin is already believed to be the fifth-highest paid coach in the NFL at $11.5 million per year, according to Sportico. Will ownership continue to pay that — and more — if the Steelers fail to return to Super Bowl contender status in the next several years with Kenny Pickett under center? Or might it be tempting to try to find their next 30-something coach?
Mike Tomlin is Currently Signed Thru 2024
At the moment, Tomlin has the reigns for at least the next two seasons, as the Steelers inked him to a three-year extension in April 2021.
That deal came mere months after Tomlin’s charges allowed 48 points in an embarrassing home playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, the kind of defeat that would have cost many head coaches their job. Never mind the 42-19 postseason defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs in Jan. 2022 and the 45-42 playoff loss at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jan. 2018. That’s 135 points allowed in Pittsburgh’s last three postseason games.
Pittsburgh’s last playoff victory was in Jan. 2017, an 18-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs that came before the start of the Patrick Mahomes era.