It's crystal clear who'll be steering the 2021 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and several more to follow. Mike Tomlin, the longtime head coach who is working to help the organization bounce back from a disappointing finish to what began as a special 2020 season, is doing so knowing he has job security going forward. He signed a three-year extension with the Steelers, the team announced on Tuesday, one that will take him through the 2024 season.
He was previously set to enter a contract year in 2021, but no more.
This marks yet another nod from Steelers ownership in the direction of Tomlin, who took over as head coach in 2007. At the time, there were massive shoes to fill in being named the heir to Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher, but Tomlin stepped into them and hit the ground running. The Steelers have a .650 win percentage in the regular season since 2007 -- third best in the league -- along with eight playoff victories. To put it all into greater perspective, the Steelers have logged 14 consecutive seasons without a losing record under Tomlin, along with two Super Bowl appearances and victory in Super Bowl XLIII.
While it's becoming difficult to remember Tomlin being anything other than a Steeler, it's not where his coaching journey began in the NFL. Formerly an undrafted wide receiver in 1995 out of William & Mary, he instead became a wide receiver coach at Virginia Military Institute before going on to do the same for Arkansas State -- along with coaching defensive backs. The latter role led him to the the University of Cincinnati and then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive backs coach, following by a short stay as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings before the Steelers gave him a call.
And despite having no head coaching experience at the time, he was named the 16th man to hold the seat in Pittsburgh, and the decision worked out masterfully for all. He also broke the color barrier in Western Pennsylvania, becoming the team's first-ever African-American head coach. There have been tough patches with Tomlin at the helm, but never any lean times -- despite numerous reasons there probably should've been -- and the Steelers are perennially in position to contend for the AFC North title and more because of the 49-year-old.
So it's a no-brainer they'd refuse to let him hit free agency in 2022.