The idea of trading Mike Tomlin briefly floated around twitter on Tuesday.  We brought up that very idea on episode 33 of the Steelers Sanctuary Podcast Sunday night.

The thought of at least listening to an offer from the Carolina Panthers makes a lot of sense.  The chances of such a bold move ever happening are in fact less than zero.  Mike Tomlin is the most powerful man inside the Steelers organization, and would have to effectively demand to be let go if he were to ever leave.  The only other person in this organization who could make such a call is Art Rooney III.  He has shown absolutely no desire to make any out of the box moves with his football team.

Just because they won’t, doesn’t mean it’s right however.  Let’s go over why we think it’s a good idea to trade a sure fire Hall of Fame coach like Mike Tomlin:

How good is he really?

We get that Mike Tomlin has accomplished a great deal in his time as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The whole “no losing seasons” thing has been beaten to death by now.  But the question needs to be asked, how many head coaches spent their entire career with a Hall of Fame quarterback?   Certainly having Ben Roethlisberger is a huge factor in this streak that is so prominently talked about.

In more recent years as Roethlisberger had aged past his prime, this franchise has looked much different.  They have not won a playoff game since 2016.  A streak that is almost certain to reach six years with the way they are headed.  In the playoff games since 2016, the Steelers have averaged a whopping 45 points per game given up.  That is quite an indictment for a supposed “defensive minded head coach”.  It is not out of the question to at least wonder if Mike Tomlin is a bit overrated.

Fast track the rebuild:

The kind of haul the Steelers could command for Mike Tomlin would be astronomical.  An owner like David Tepper would be likely to pay just about anything given his struggles since acquiring the team a few years ago.  The Carolina Panthers have been a train wreck since the day he bought the team, and desperation is almost certainly setting in.

As a guide to trading Mike Tomlin, we can look to the deal that sent John Gruden from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.   In that deal, the Raiders received two first round picks, two second round picks, and $8 million in cash.  Gruden was certainly considered one of the best coaches in the league at that point, but he hadn’t accomplished anywhere near what Mike Tomlin has.  The Steelers could rightly demand even more than what the Raiders received.

So what would a deal with the Panthers look like?  How about young corner Jaycee Horn, a second and third round picks in 2023, and first rounders in 2024 and 2025.  The Panthers would probably balk at giving up their first round pick in 2023.  They are in desperate need of a quarterback, and this draft just so happens to be loaded with them.   Short of that, almost anything else would be on the table.  A haul like the one we mentioned would absolutely fast track the rebuild of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Bring in an offensive mind as head coach:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are woefully behind the curve in terms of offensive philosophy.  The league has gone towards a more complex style of offense this franchise can only dream about.  Quite a few  franchises have gone towards the Kyle Shanahan/Seam McVay coaching tree, and with great success.  The Cincinnati Bengals added Zac Taylor, and found themselves in their first Super Bowl in decades.  Now the Vikings, Packers, and Dolphins have all gone in that direction as well.

The next Steelers coach does not have to be another Shanahan disciple, but it must be a coach with an offensive background at the very least.  This a trend in the NFL that the Steelers simply can’t ignore.  It is an offensive league, and will be for the foreseeable future.


In the end this is nothing more than a fun little exercise.  The chances of Art Rooney III pulling the trigger on such a deal are slim to none.  The inherent conservatism of this franchise has served it well over the last 50 years, but now it is costing them.  Their unwillingness to self scout, and take a deep look at their flawed processes is really hurting the team.  They held onto Ben Roethlisberger too long, and now are making the same mistake with Mike Tomlin.