Historically, the Pittsburgh Steelers have typically extended Mike Tomlin’s contract with two years remaining. That’s the situation Tomlin and the Steelers find themselves in this offseason, as the coach’s current contract runs through the 2024 season.
But while speaking to reporters on January 26, Steelers owner Art Rooney II declined to indicate whether the organization was interested in signing Tomlin to a new extension this offseason.
“I don’t like to speculate on our coach’s contract,” Rooney said. “So, we will see.”
Tomlin led the Steelers to a 9-8 record but missed the playoffs in 2022. The Steelers won seven of their last nine games to clinch a winning record, extending Tomlin’s non-playoff streak to 16 consecutive seasons.
On the other hand, the Steelers have reached double-digit wins just once in the last five years and haven’t won a playoff game since 2016.
New Precedent Set With Steelers-Tomlin Contract Extensions?
Pittsburgh’s tradition of extending the contract of their head coach with two years remaining on their current deal dates back to Bill Cowher. But more recently, the Steelers broke away from that tradition.
In 2020, Tomlin entered the season with two years left on his contract and no new extension. But the Steelers signed him to a three-year extension in 2021.
Sports radio host Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan tried to insinuate that Rooney’s non-committal answer on a potential Tomlin extension could have a deeper meaning.
But Rooney sent a much stronger message of support for Tomlin during an interview with Missi Mathews of Steelers.com.
“I think the number one thing I look at in terms of the job a coach does is does the team get better over the course of the season. And we clearly did that,” Rooney said. “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.
“I think he gives us a chance to win year in and year out. Put us in a position that we have a chance to compete for a championship.”
Tomlin has led the Steelers to the postseason 10 times during his 16-year tenure. The Steelers have earned a spot in the AFC Championship Game on three occasions during that stretch.
Predictions for When Tomlin, Steelers Sign an Extension
Pittsburgh sports radio has been heavily critical of Tomlin for the team’s recent shortcomings in the playoffs. Tomlin criticism reached a boiling point when the Steelers started the 2022 season 2-6.
Despite the turn around at midseason, Fillipponi has remained steadfast in his criticism of Tomlin. On January 27, he implied on Twitter that Tomlin doesn’t deserve a contract extension this offseason.
The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly had a more objective take to Tomlin and what Rooney said about a potential extension.
“This is Rooney saying that he doesn’t want this to be a story for months, so he will keep it close to the vest,” wrote Kaboly about Rooney’s lack of speculation on a possible Tomlin extension.
“Hint: They will sign him sometime in late June or July.”
That’s somewhat of an ironic take considering Rooney’s comment on Tomlin is a story at least for the moment. But Kaboly clearly indicated an extension will come sometime this summer.
Tomlin owns a 163-93-2 record as Steeles head coach. Only Bill Belichick and Andy Reid have more regular season wins as an NFL head coach since 2007.