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Mike Tomlin is about to begin his 11th playoff appearance as the Steelers' head coach, fresh off his record 17th straight non-losing season atop the staff. But some around the NFL believe this could also be his last in Pittsburgh, according to ESPN.

The Steelers are not firing Mike Tomlin, Adam Schefter said this week, "but ... there are some people around the league who believe that Mike Tomlin could decide, eventually, to take some time off. Like Sean Payton did, maybe take a year off."

Payton notably stepped away as the Saints' head coach in 2022, after 15 seasons on the job. He spent a year as a Fox Sports analyst before returning as the Broncos' coach -- technically via trade -- ahead of the 2023 campaign.

NBC Sports reported earlier this year that Pittsburgh has "no reason" to believe Tomlin wants to leave, and in fact would like to extend his contract, which currently runs through 2024. But Schefter has since doubled down on his suggestion that a departure is in the cards, telling "The Pat McAfee Show" this week that certain NFL sources believe Tomlin "could walk" after the season.

Regardless, Tomlin will dictate what happens, Schefter explained, not the Pittsburgh Steelers: "He's staying on if he wants to."

The 51-year-old coach has enjoyed firm job security as the NFL's second-longest-tenured head coach, behind only the Patriots' Bill Belichick, who's widely expected to entertain his own relocation in 2024. Tomlin is 173-100-2 over his nearly two decades in Pittsburgh, guiding the Steelers to two Super Bowls and winning one. He's drawn more local scrutiny in recent years, however, as his last playoff victory came in 2016, when the team advanced to the AFC Championship.

Tomlin's Steelers will visit the Bills on Sunday as part of Super Wild Card Weekend after Pittsburgh finished 10-7.

If he were to exit following the season, a number of teams with head coaching vacancies, including the Commanders, would likely be interested in his services, even if it meant negotiating a trade with the Steelers.