Former Saints head coach Sean Payton reset the market for head coaches after signing a lucrative contract with the Denver Broncos on January 31. The estimated $20 million price tag, coupled with the two draft picks Denver sent New Orleans, prompted discussion of what Mike Tomlin‘s next contract would look like.
While Payton could surpass New England Patriots‘ Bill Belichick as the NFL’s highest-paid coach, Tomlin will be lucky to sniff that kind of green. He’s two years into a three-year contract that pays him $12.5 million a year, according to Sportico. The amount pits him between Los Angeles Rams‘ Sean McVay and Kansas City Chiefs Andy Reid on the highest-paid NFL coaches scale.
Pro Football Talk‘s Mike Florio believes Tomlin would have to pull a ‘Sean Payton’ to earn an elite salary.
“A great coach is worth 20-25 million,” Florio said on 93.7 The Fan’s PM Team. “The great coaches are making that much money.”
“Bottom line is, I don’t think the Steelers are ever going to be at the top of the market. I think if Tomlin ever wants to get to the top of the market, he is going to have to go somewhere else. I don’t know how you pull that off unless you do the Sean Payton. You quit for a year or two, the next team comes back and deals with the Steelers.”
Florio questions whether a defensive-minded coach like Mike Tomlin could command top-dollar.
“There would be a strong debate on whether he would be worthy of that top-end money,” Florio continued. “Some would argue persuasively that should be exclusive to Bill Belichick and offensive coaches who have shown they can do it at a high level.”
“I continue to believe that Tomlin is in the range of better coaches; I don’t know that anyone would pay him 20-25 million. I just think a small handful of guys are going to get that.”
Should Steelers Make Mike Tomlin’s Next Contract Conditional?
It’s been repeated ad nauseam that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record. But what does that mean in the grand scheme of the NFL landscape? Nada.
The Steelers have been on the brink of a postseason run in seven of Tomlin’s first 16 years but, outside of the 2006 Championship, haven’t done enough to clear the playoff hurdle. Close, but no cigar alludes to the team only needing minor changes to be, once again, among the mix of playoff darlings.
On the February 1 PM Team show, co-host Chris Mueller proposed that Pittsburgh holds off on extending Tomlin and making a contract contingent on those changes being made.
“I would suggest like just not doing the re-up this year,” Mueller said. “It comes with the, we still like you, we still have very high expectations. We just want to see some changes. We want you to make them now.”
Change could look like Tomlin relinquishing control of the defense and bringing in a modern-minded offensive coordinator and a veteran QB coach to help develop Kenny Pickett.
Steelers’ Mike Tomlin is One of the Best NFL Coaches
PM Team guest, CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala, says despite the need for changes in Pittsburgh, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is one of the best in the business.
“The truth of the matter is Mike Tomlin is one of the best coaches in the National Football League period,” Kinkhabwala said. “Can he tweak things? Can he tweak his staff? Can he tweak certain ways things are done? Sure. But you’re not getting a better head coach than Mike Tomlin. You’re just not.”
Since Tomlin took the Steelers over in 2007, they’ve won seven division titles and been to the postseason nine times. He ranks as the 16th most-winning head coach in NFL history. They also had a historic 2020 season, finishing 12-4. You’d think that would be enough to satisfy Steelers fans.
But detractors will pound the keyboard with calls for Tomlin’s firing because he appears content with a middle-of-the-road finish. As loud and as frequent as demands for him to be cut from the staff roster, it doesn’t matter. Tomlin would never be fired.
Like dogs to their owners, the Rooney family is loyal to their head coach — almost to a fault — made evident by Tomlin, Cowher and Chuck Noll’s longevity.
Tomlin seems to value stability and a solid organization over elite money.