They haven't yet solved the contract dilemma of LaMarr Woodley, but the Pittsburgh Steelers put another long-term distraction to bed today, extending the contract of Mike Tomlin three years. Ed Bouchette of the PG broke the news of the deal this morning, although financial terms were not yet available. The deal will keep Tomlin in Pittsburgh through 2014.
Tomlin's original deal had one year and one option year remaining, worth $2.5 million annually. Bouchette compared Tomlin's original deal to that of Arizona's Ken Whisenhunt, who received virtually identical contracts when both hired in 2007. Whisenhunt just re-upped for five years and an annual average of between $5.5 million and $6 million, so that could be the ballpark for Tomlin's deal.
Bouchette also reported that football operations director Kevin Colbert is in line for a new deal as well, which should quiet the rumors of a reunion with Bill Cowher at some point in the future.
Although the team had its share of struggles on the field (9-7) in 2009 and off the field as well, I'm still a Tomlin fan. I put absolutely zero stock into the columns claiming that he won with "Cowher's Team". To come into an NFL locker room teeming with millionaire divas who can't wait to roll their eyes at you and win their respect is no small feat, especially when you have no prior record as a head coach and their last coach won a Super Bowl two seasons earlier.
Just think for a moment about the men and egos Tomlin's had to work with. If you think it's easy to get the attention of a Roethlisberger or a Holmes, think again. The list of coaches that Roethlisberger alone has clashed with in his brief NFL career is a lengthy one, filled with a number of talented football minds, including Cowher and Whisenhunt. The fact that he and Tomlin are remotely in the same ballpark at this stage of the game is a minor miracle. Sure, Tomlin's been given some talented players. But how coachable are some of these guys? That is the multi-million dollar question.
Tomlin has absolutely had some less-than-perfect moments (his ridiculous explanation of the Jeff Reed police incident and lack of discipline immediately springs to mind). And there have been some major distractions that have come on his watch, although it's ridiculous to suggest that he's somehow responsible for the actions of grown men. But sadly, those are issues that virtually every NFL coach has to deal with in 2010. Since Tomlin's introduction, the team has an overall record of 31-17, with a Lombardi Trophy to boot. I don't know what your definition of a good coach is, but that certainly fits my criteria.
When a person suggests firing a coach or getting rid of a player, my immediate response is to ask who they would bring in to do a better job. And to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure there are many men I'd rather have other than Mike Tomlin coaching the Steelers for the next five years.