Mike Tomlin

Latest On Franchise-Tagged Players

Monday’s 3pm CT deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions may come and go without one being finalized.

After a Saturday report indicated re-ups were unlikely for DeMarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com confirmed Ansah and the Lions won’t agree to terms by Monday afternoon and adds Lawrence is unlikely to come to terms with the Cowboys (Twitter links).

As for the other two tagged players, prospects also appear grim. Schefter reports (on Twitter) Lamarcus Joyner is not expected to reach an extension with the Rams, though he adds the sides are still discussing one. And despite Mike Tomlin‘s hopes of Le’Veon Bell finally agreeing to a Steelers accord, Schefter reports (via Twitter) that’s unlikely, too. However, the Steelers and Bell have made recent progress and will keep trying until the deadline. But this report throws some cold water on an 11th-hour solution coming to pass.

Ansah and the Lions have been far apart throughout this process, and the Lions are planning to see if their top edge defender can stay healthy and prove reliable enough for a long-term commitment. The Cowboys may be using the same strategy with their injury-prone pass rusher, despite making a stronger effort to discuss a deal with Lawrence.

Bell and the Steelers have been circling each other for years, but if the parties can’t agree by Monday afternoon, their arrangement will be a full-fledged rental situation. Bell will likely be headed toward the 2019 UFA market if the Steelers don’t sign him by Monday. The Rams’ issues with Aaron Donald‘s deal leave Joyner in a strange spot. Los Angeles possesses a league-low $2MM in cap space and has a glut of contract calls coming — Donald, Joyner, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, Marcus Peters — in what will be a complicated stretch for the now-high-profile team.

Of course, by the Lions, Cowboys and Rams not agreeing on deals with their tagged performers, that ups prices down the line. Since Bell has already been twice tagged, it would cost the Steelers a staggering $20MM-plus to tag their All-Pro back again.

Ansah is going to play this season for $17.1MM, and if Lawrence indeed is still without a deal by Monday evening, he will too. Joyner will count nearly $12MM on the Rams’ payroll, while Bell’s $14.5MM 2018 salary has been well-known for months by NFL contract buffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Steelers, Ben, Bell

As the Ravens seek to repair their offense in 2018, they should target free agent tight end Jimmy Graham, opines Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco has always displayed a proclivity for throwing to tight ends, and Graham could give the Ravens a valuable weapon in the red zone (each of Graham’s 10 touchdowns all came from inside the 20). While he did score often, Graham is entering his age-32 campaign and only managed 520 receiving yards on the season. Football Outsiders‘ DVOA metric, which records value on a per-play basis, wasn’t fond of Graham either, as he ranked just 28th out of 51 qualified tight ends. However, that was a higher finish than any of Baltimore’s tight ends from a year ago. The Ravens only have $10.5MM in available 2018 cap space, so adding any free agents might be tough unless general manager Ozzie Newsome & Co. release a few veterans or restructure contracts.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Dean Pees quickly accepted an offer to become the Titans’ defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike Vrabel shortly after “retiring” as the Ravens‘ DC, leading to questions about whether Pees was forced out of Baltimore. However, Pees said today that wasn’t the case, per Hensley (Twitter link). Pees helped the Ravens to the No. 3 defensive DVOA ranking a season ago, so it would have been surprising if head coach John Harbaugh removed Pees from his staff. Although Tennessee now employs a defensive head coach in Vrabel, Pees is expected to call the plays for the Titans.
  • With a solid core in place, the Steelers‘ personnel plan involves inking quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a multi-year extension and signing running back Le’Veon Bell in the short-term, argues Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Roethlisberger wants to play for at least three more seasons, so Pittsburgh can reduce his 2018 cap charge by giving him a new signing bonus, the cap hit of which would be spread across multiple seasons. Bell, meanwhile, has a “conviction to set a healthier market for running backs,” but has indicated he’d accept the franchise tag next season.
  • Keeping stability among their most talented players is essential for the Steelers, but so is ensuring continuity on a staff that parted ways with offensive coordinator Todd Haley earlier this year. Head coach Mike Tomlin isn’t going anywhere, but as for the reports indicating a Steelers minority ownership group had pushed for Tomlin’s firing“I didn’t get that letter yet,” Steelers majority owner Art Rooney II sad, per Fowler (Twitter link). “I don’t know if it got lost in the mail or it’s coming by Pony Express.”
  • The Steelersone-year extension for punter Jordan Berry is worth $1.887MM, per salary cap guru Ian Whetstone (Twitter links). Berry had been scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and his new contract will pay him roughly the same as an original round tender. RFA tenders must increase by at least 5% each year, and given that last year’s low tender was worth $1.797MM, Berry’s salary is now equal to the 2017 original round tender plus that 5%. As such, it’s possible the Steelers have added a mechanism to Berry’s contract that will increase his pay when the tender amount is officially announced by the NFL, per Whetstone. For what it’s worth, Over the Cap projects the 2018 original round tender to come in at $1.908MM.
  • Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake will not return to team in 2018, as he indicated in a statement released by Pittsburgh that he’ll move home to California as his son finishes high school. Lake is longtime Steelers fixture, as he earned multiple Pro Bowl nods and was named to one All-Pro team during his decade-long career in the Steel City. He was hired to serve as Pittsburgh’s secondary coach in 2011, and that role comprises the sum of his coaching experience. Lake is only 50 years old, so there’s a chance he returns to the coaching ranks down the road.

Steelers Minority Owners Pushing For Coaching Change

After this weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Jaguars, some Steelers minority owners are pushing for the team to fire coach Mike Tomlin, a source tells Mike Florio of PFT. This group of 13 limited partners has no authority over the management of the team, but they “have a pipeline” to main owner Art Rooney and they intend to make their case. Mike Tomlin (Vertical)

It’s unlikely that this baker’s dozen of shareholders can push out Tomlin by themselves, but they could theoretically influence Rooney to make a move if he is giving any thought to making a change. It’s not clear if that is on Rooney’s radar, even after the disappointing loss to Jacksonville.

Tomlin, of course, led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory after the 2008 season and guided the team back to the title game after the 2010 campaign. In Tomlin’s eleven seasons at the helm, the team has missed the playoffs only three times and has never finished worse than .500. The Steelers are also not known for making hasty decisions with their coaches. The team has had only three coaches since 1969 – Chuck NollBill Cowher, and Tomlin.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Gordon

A few notes from the AFC North:

  • Financial details on Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s newly minted contract extension are unavailable, but the belief is that he’s close behind the NFL’s highest-paid sideline leaders – New England’s Bill Belichick and Seattle’s Pete Carroll – in annual salary, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. While one of Tomlin’s superiors, general manager Kevin Colbert, could be in line for an extension of his own, owner Art Rooney II suggested Thursday that there’s no timetable to reach an agreement. “They’re not tied together in any sort of timing situation,” Rooney said. “I hate to speculate on contracts because they get done when they get done.”
  • A recent CBS Sports report suggested that Pittsburgh is interested in trading for Rams franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, but “several Steelers sources laughed at that premise,” Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette writes. At $16.74MM, Johnson is the league’s top-paid corner. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ entire cornerback corps only makes $12.49MM.
  • When asked Thursday about a potential reinstatement for suspended Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, commissioner Roger Goodell said it is “not under active consideration to my knowledge…at least it hasn’t gotten to my desk yet” (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer). The 26-year-old was denied reinstatement by the league office in May and informed that he could not reapply again until the fall, so Goodell’s update here in August doesn’t mean a whole lot.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Steelers, Mike Tomlin Agree To Extension

The Steelers have inked an extension with coach Mike Tomlin. The new deal will take him through the 2020 season. Mike Tomlin (Vertical)

I am pleased to announce we have extended Mike Tomlin’s contract through the 2020 season,” said Steelers President Art Rooney II.Mike continues to prove he is one of the top head coaches in the National Football League. We appreciate the leadership that Mike has provided over the last 10 seasons, and we are confident and excited to have him continue to lead our team as we focus on winning another championship.”

A new deal has been expected for weeks now. This year, Tomlin’s deal automatically vested through the 2019 campaign based on wins, but the Steelers wanted to lock him up for an even longer term.

Tomlin is entering his eleventh season as the coach of the Steelers. In his time at the helm, Pittsburgh has made the playoffs seven times and has never finished a season with less than eight wins. Overall, Tomlin has a 103-57 regular season record, two AFC Championship titles, and one Super Bowl ring.

Next up for the Steelers could be an extension for general manager Kevin Colbert. His current deal expires after the 2018 draft.

The Steelers have just three coaches since 1969, the year of Chuck Noll‘s hiring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers HC Mike Tomlin’s Contract Vests

Mike Tomlin is now under contract as the Steelers head coach through 2019, as his contract has vested based on wins, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Rapoport indicates Pittsburgh has had discussions about a longer deal for Tomlin, and Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports an extension could be announced soon (Twitter link).Mike Tomlin (Vertical)

Bouchette suggested earlier this week that Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert could be in line for new contracts. Colbert is the more pressing situation, as his current deal expires after the 2018 draft. Tomlin, one of only three Pittsburgh head coaches since 1969, could still land a new pact, but given that he’s now locked in for three more seasons, his status is a bit less imperative.

Tomlin, 45, has been extremely successful in his 10 seasons as the Steelers head coach, as the club has earned seven postseason appearances during his decade-long run. Pittsburgh has never finished with fewer than eight wins during Tomlin’s reign. Overall, Tomlin has posted a 103-57 regular season record and owns one Super Bowl and two AFC Championship titles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Steelers, Bengals, Broncos

Contract extensions may be in the offing for Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, writes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Colbert’s contract will expire after next year’s draft, while Tomlin is still under wraps for two more seasons. That’s typically when the Steelers have worked to extend their head coaches in the past, observes Bouchette. They’ve had just three since 1969, the year of Chuck Noll‘s hiring. Bill Cowher also came before Tomlin, who has mimicked those two with a resoundingly successful run in Pittsburgh. The Tomlin-led club has made the playoffs seven times out of 10, including last year, and hasn’t finished with fewer than eight wins in a season. Overall, the Steelers have gone 103-57 with a Super Bowl victory and two AFC championships under Tomlin.

More from the AFC:

  • One of Tomlin’s AFC North rivals, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, seems less secure in his role. Lewis is in a contract year, but owner Mike Brown indicated Tuesday that he’ll go at his own pace on a potential extension for the coach, per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. Still, Brown is satisfied with Lewis, who trails only the Patriots’ Bill Belichick in tenure among head coaches. “That should tell you how I feel about him. He has my respect, my regard, my confidence,” said Brown. “We’ve been through this before. Sometimes it was an additional prod. Heck, we all know how it went last year. We wish it had gone better, so maybe we’ll see a better year this year and things will sort out then.” The Bengals stumbled to a 6-9-1 mark in 2016, snapping a five-year playoff streak and giving them a 118-103-3 record during Lewis’ 14-season stint. Amazingly, the team has lost all seven of its postseason games with Lewis at the helm.
  • Even though he has been cleared for everything, Broncos coach Vance Joseph says that the team will be approaching things cautiously with Jamaal Charles in an effort to keep him fresh for the season. That makes James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter) wonder if that means Charles has already made the team. For all of his career accomplishments, it has been said that Charles may only have a 50/50 shot of making the final cut.
  • The executive who signed Charles in free agency this year, John Elway, received a promotion when the Broncos awarded him a contract extension Monday, reports Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. The Hall of Fame quarterback is now Denver’s president of football operations/general manager. He had been their executive VP of football operations/GM since 2011.
  • The Ravens had expressed interest in running back Bobby Rainey even before Kenneth Dixon went down with a meniscus injury, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore had been in contact with Rainey throughout the summer, per Hensley, but news of Dixon’s impending operation presumably sped up contract talks and led to his signing Tuesday. Rainey, who had also drawn interest from the Jets earlier this year, joins a backfield that includes Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Buck Allen, and Lorenzo Taliaferro.

Dallas Robinson and Zach Links contributed to this post.

Coaching Notes: Bills, Payton, Jaguars, Bucs

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has compiled a 101-57 record during his 10 years in Pittsburgh, and he’s also led his squad to a pair of Super Bowl appearances, winning one. Despite the apparent success, Terry Bradshaw isn’t impressed.

The Hall of Fame Steelers quarterback said on FOX Sports 1 that Tomlin isn’t among the best active coaches in the NFL.

“I don’t think he’s a great coach at all,” Bradshaw said (via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s a nice coach. To me, and I’ve said this, he’s really a great cheerleader guy. I don’t know what he does. But I don’t think that he’s a great coach at all. His name never even pops in my mind when we think about great coaches in the NFL.”

Bradshaw attributes much of Tomlin’s success to the current head coach’s predecessor, Bill Cowher. While Tomlin certainly inherited an elite roster, you can’t deny his success over the past decade.

Let’s take a look at some other coaching notes from around the NFL…

  • The Bills haven’t decided on head coach Rex Ryan‘s future with the organization. However, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that if the team does move on from Ryan, it could be partially motivated by the team’s desire to keep offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in the organization. Lynn will likely get some interviews for head coaching gigs this offseason, and he’d presumably be a candidate for the Bills’ gig if the position opens up.
  • Sean Payton could have been the Colts coach this season, reports Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (via Twitter). Ultimately, the current Saints head coach didn’t want to take a pay cut from $10MM per year to $8MM per year.
  • The Jaguars have hired Jed Hughes of Korn Ferry International to help assist the front office in hiring a new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). The firm specializes in conducting “executive searches.”
  • The Buccaneers defense has been on a roll recently, and defensive coordinator Mike Smith has predictably been mentioned as a potential head coach candidate. However, with the team looking to make the playoffs, Smith is trying to block out all of that speculation. “Rumors are rampant this time of the year,” Smith told ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine. “I’m enjoying my time here. I want to make this team the best team it can be. You don’t address rumors. That’s what happens this time of year.”

Mike Tomlin Suspended Eli Rogers Vs. Patriots

The Steelers have struggled all season, and really throughout 2016, to have their starting offense together thanks to injuries and suspensions.

In addition to Ben Roethlisberger‘s injury, the player expected to be Pittsburgh’s primary slot receiver, Eli Rogers, was unavailable against the Patriots last weekend. A source informed Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link) the wideout was serving a Mike Tomlin-issued suspension for an unspecified violation in Week 7.

Rogers missed two games earlier in the season with turf toe and has struggled to make an impact since a solid opening-night performance that saw the newcomer catch six passes for 59 yards and a touchdown, one that came off a deflection. The second-year UDFA who spent last season on IR has 13 receptions for 135 yards this season.

Pittsburgh has featured exactly zero members of the projected statistic-accruing contingent of its starting offense suit up for all seven games.

Roethlisberger remains out due to his recent knee injury, and Le’Veon Bell incurred a three-game drug suspension. Martavis Bryant is suspended for the season, and Ladarius Green began it on the PUP list. Neither Rogers nor Markus Wheaton has been healthy throughout, either.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Tunsil, Carroo, Ravens, Steelers

The Dolphins slotted Laremy Tunsil as their No. 2-rated player before the draft, with Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey at No. 1, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports. Had Tunsil not fallen to them at No. 13, the Dolphins would have been inclined to trade back and seek cornerback help, Salguero writes.

Among corners, the Dolphins had Eli Apple rated No. 2 behind Ramsey. Although Miami traded for Byron Maxwell, the team is now without all three of its primary starters from 2015 — Brent Grimes, Brice McCain and Jamar Taylor, the latter being traded to the Browns for a seventh-round pick Saturday.

Here’s more from the AFC as we transition into a post-draft world, beginning with more on the Dolphins’ board.

  • Miami traded up in the third round to take Rutgers wideout Leonte Carroo, but it’s not where the ex-Scarlet Knights target came off the board that’s interesting; it’s where his new team rated him. “We thought he was the second-best receiver in the draft,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, via Salguero. That assessment runs counter to just about every pre-draft analysis in a draft that saw four wideouts go in the first round and three come off the board in Round 2. Prior to Miami selecting Carroo at No. 86, the Texans took Braxton Miller at No. 85. The Dolphins surrendered a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft — which it traded to the Vikings to select another receiver, Jakeem Grant — as well as third- and fourth-round choices in 2017 to become the ninth team to select a receiver this year. Rutgers suspended Carroo twice in 2015, and he was arrested once on a domestic violence-related charge.
  • Tunsil’s selection strikes Salguero as interesting considering as the No. 2 player on the Dolphins’ board, they couldn’t have done the exhaustive work on him as they did on someone like Apple or another player they thought would be in play at 13. He uses the Patriots, who did not pick until the 60s, not doing much work on Ramsey as an example.
  • Although Ozzie Newsome denied the Ravens picked Ronnie Stanley over Tunsil because of the now-infamous bong video posted on the tackle’s Twitter account before the draft, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports that the social media posting was passed around the Ravens draft room prior to the team selecting Stanley. The Ray Rice moment still hangs over the franchise, Schmuck writes, inducing Baltimore to play it safe when it comes to questionable prospects.
  • The past two years, the Steelers have chosen 11 defensive players compared to just four on offense, and Mike Tomlin told media (including Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) it’s realistic three could emerge as starters in Week 1. “I believe it’s realistic,” Tomlin said of the prospect of the team’s top three picks — cornerback Artie Burns, safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave — starting against Washington in September. “That’s why we chose them where we chose them. But they have to earn it, and we’ll give them the opportunity to do that.” Following the departures of Steve McLendon and Brandon Boykin, the team has holes in its lineup at No. 2 corner and at defensive tackle.