The Pittsburgh Steelers have extended head coach Mike Tomlin through the 2018 season, the team announced on Thursday. It's a two-year extension, and if Tomlin keeps his position through the length of his contract the Steelers will hit an intriguing milestone.
In 2019, it will have been 50 years since the team hired Chuck Noll to coach the team back in 1969, and if Tomlin is still in charge, he'd be just the third head coach in franchise history over that time span. Noll coached the team from 1969 through 1991, Bill Cowher took over from 1992 to 2006 and Tomlin has been the coach ever since.
Tomlin's new deal will pay him "at least" $7 million per season, which makes him among the league's highest-paid coaches, according to ESPN.
Tomlin is currently the sixth-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, behind Bill Belichick, Marvin Lewis, Tom Coughlin, Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton. The Steelers have stuck with the coaches they believe in as well as any franchise. You can't argue with the results; the Steelers have six Lombardi trophies testifying to the way they manage the team. Noll, Cowher and Tomlin all had their rough spots, but all also won big games for the organization.
Pittsburgh isn't the only organization to believe in the long-term stability of believing in a coach, either. Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has been in charge of that team since January 2000, and just won yet another Super Bowl this past season. Since Belichick was named head coach of the Patriots, there have been over 120 head coaches in the league.
Nearly half, 14 out of 32 of the league's active head coaches have been with their current teams for three years or less. The chart below breaks down NFL head coaches according to their current tenure with the team.
Tomlin has taken the Steelers to two Super Bowls since he took over, with the team winning the big game in Super Bowl XLIII. They made it back in Super Bowl XLV but lost to the Green Bay Packers, and since then have been in the playoffs two more times. Both of those were wild card round losses, and the Steelers missed the playoffs twice in between those appearances.
Most recently, the Steelers battled to the top in a super competitive AFC North to make it into the postseason in 2014, but fell to the rival Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. They're six seasons removed from Tomlin's Super Bowl victory, but they've never been truly awful, and their losses haven't come as a result of poor management or leadership on Tomlin's part.
The Steelers play the long game, and understand that rosters change and leading an NFL team is an incredibly difficult job. Tomlin will get plenty of opportunities to get the Steelers a seventh Lombardi trophy before it's all said and done.