Over the next few weeks Steelers Sanctuary will be providing our version on how to fix the mess that is the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers.  There’s no shortage of things that need fixing with this franchise heading into next season.  We will be taking a step by step approach on the moves we feel need to be made going forward.

Step one in this series will be to trade Mike Tomlin.  Sound crazy?  There is precedent for trading high profile head coaches in the NFL.  The Oakland Raiders traded Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, and got quite the haul for him. This franchise needs a new direction in terms of the coaching staff anyway, why not profit from this change?  Here are the details of what a trade would look like, and how it would affect the team:

The Trade:

As we mentioned earlier, a move like this is not without precedent.  The the Oakland Raiders received two first, and two second round picks for Jon Gruden in 2002.  The similarities  between these two situations are astonishing.  Both the Raiders and Steelers were coming off crushing playoff losses.  Jon Gruden had only one year left on his contract, just as Mike Tomlin has right now.  Both are thought to be at the very top of the NFL coaching profession as well.   https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/jon-gruden-trade-raiders-buccaneers/lx7i1j2be78t1k73pnzge6wnn

Imagine what a haul like that could do for this franchise right now.  There would be no shortage of teams interested if the Steelers were willing to trade Mike Tomlin.  The NFL currently has seven head coaching positions open right now.  That’s seven teams Kevin Colbert could pit against each other to get maximum return in a trade.  Let’s take a look at a few of the trade possibilities:


A swap of first round picks, the Jaguars third round pick, and a 2022 second round pick.


The Jets second overall pick.


Falcons fourth overall pick, and a 4th round pick.


Lions seventh overall pick, plus a first in 2022.


Chargers thirteenth overall pick, second round pick 2021, and second round pick in 2022

Any of these potential trades would be a windfall for this organization.  The assets obtained in this kind of trade would give the team exactly what they need for a quick and painless rebuild.  Including a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, which has to be a top priority moving forward.  Any other scenario involves a long and painful process back to Super Bowl contender.

The Why:

A rebuild in Pittsburgh is long overdue.  We called for one after the 2018 season when Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell left the team, and Ben Roethlisberger’s contract was nearly up.  It’s time for the Steelers to blow it up  Three years later, this franchise has backed themselves into a corner with a mess of a salary cap.  No money to spend, an over the hill quarterback, and a major talent set to leave via free agency.

The only real asset this team has that would bring any substantial return is their head coach.  A trade involving Mike Tomlin would be the quickest way to jumpstart the remaking of this roster.  It is in fact the only way to get the next franchise quarterback, without the pain of one or more losing seasons.

All this, and we have not yet mentioned the real reason to trade Mike Tomlin.  The fact of the matter is its time.  Mike Tomlin is a very good NFL head coach, but his time has passed in Pittsburgh.  This franchise needs a new, more modern direction in terms of coaching.  Running old and tired derivatives of the Dick LeBeau defense just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Not to mention the absolutely unimaginative offense this team employs.  Tomlin’s loyalty to his coordinators, and unwillingness to modernize his approach has made this team predictable and stagnant.  A change of scenery would benefit both Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.  Especially if that change brought back much needed assets for the Pittsburgh Steelers.


NOTE:  Stay tuned for step two in the “Fixing the Steelers” series by Steelers Sanctuary.  Next we tackle the in-house free agents and roster cuts.