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March 4, 2024

Tomlin Tells Steelers He Will Return as Head Coach in 2024

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Jan 16, 2024

Tomlin Affirms Commitment After Exit From Press Conference Raises Questions

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told his players that he plans to return to coach the team in 2024, according to multiple reports. The news comes after Tomlin abruptly exited his post-game press conference following the Steelers’ Wild Card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills when asked about his contract status.

Tomlin’s swift departure from the podium sparked speculation about his future, but he took steps to reassure the team by informing them directly of his intention to be back next season.

“He told us that all the rumors about his job and our team next year aren’t true,” said Steelers linebacker Myles Jack. “He’ll be here, and he wants all of us here too.”

The unusual press conference exit brought Tomlin’s contract status into focus in the aftermath of the Steelers’ elimination from the playoffs. Tomlin is signed through 2024 but there had been rumblings about potential changes coming to the Steelers.

Timeline of Events Raises Questions Before Tomlin’s Affirmation

The sequence of events that led to the doubts about Tomlin’s future went as follows:

  • Steelers lose 29-15 to Bills to end their season
  • In post-game press conference, Tomlin is asked about his contract status for 2024
  • Tomlin abruptly leaves the press conference without answering
  • Rumors swirl about Tomlin’s commitment to returning
  • Tomlin tells players the next day he will be back to coach them

The sudden press conference exit sparked several days of speculation before Tomlin put the rumors to rest. The gap between the walk-off and Tomlin’s comments gave rise to speculation that he was considering stepping away.

Longtime Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette wrote after the press conference that Tomlin’s action “certainly raises some questions about his status for 2024.” Bouchette mused that Tomlin could step away for a year of decompression before returning.

But others close to the team doubted a break was imminent. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport tweeted: “From conversations over the last several weeks, I don’t get the sense that Mike Tomlin is ready to step away from coaching at all. He has said he wants to match Bill Cowher’s 15 years.”

Tomlin’s Record Makes Return Likely But Extension Still Uncertain

Tomlin just finished his 16th year with the Steelers, compiling a 161-94 record so far. His consistency in delivering winning seasons and playoff berths likely ensures his return for 2024 even without an extension beyond that.

Season Record Playoff Result
2023 9-8 Lost Wild Card Round
2022 9-8 No Playoffs
2021 9-7-1 No Playoffs
2020 12-4 Lost Wild Card Round
2019 8-8 No Playoffs

He has not had a losing season since his debut year of 2007 when the Steelers finished 8-8. That reliable track record almost guarantees Tomlin one more season to show he can right the ship.

But his long-term future is murkier without a contract extension. The Steelers traditionally only go year-to-year on extensions once coaches are signed beyond their initial long-term deals. Both Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll finished their Steelers’ tenures on a series of one-year extensions.

So while next season is settled, an extension for Tomlin appears up in the air. The team has not yet indicated its plans for an extension, but his 2023 return gives them a season to evaluate the franchise direction.

What Comes Next for Tomlin and the Steelers

In the short term, Tomlin will be focused on evaluating the roster and plotting strategy for 2024. He enters the offseason with questions at quarterback and holes on the offensive line.

Rookie QB Kenny Pickett showed flashes but was inconsistent in his limited playing time. Other teams will likely inquire about his availability in trade talks that could reshape the offense. There are also big free agent decisions looming for skill players like RB Najee Harris and WR Diontae Johnson that impact next year’s lineup.

Tomlin and the front office have critiques to analyze and changes to weigh this offseason. One NFC executive suggested to NBC Sports that Tomlin may need an overhaul of his coaching staff, especially on defense where the Steelers faltered down the stretch. But any larger rebuild requires buy-in from ownership and management above Tomlin’s pay grade.

In the big picture, Tomlin’s future hangs over the franchise. While he returns in 2024, the lack of an extension keeps questions open about the long-range plan. Tomlin’s resume still makes him a top coaching candidate if he ever hit the open market.

For now, Tomlin told his team he will be the one leading them when next season rolls around. But until a new contract comes, speculation about the Hall of Fame coach’s future chapters will still surround Steelers Nation.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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