Tim Benz: What it would take for Steelers to trade Mike Tomlin to Redskins
I’d do this.
Would the Pittsburgh Steelers? No.
Would Mike Tomlin want it? Unlikely. He shouldn’t. At least if football stability itself dictates his decision.
For other reasons? Well, only he would know that.
Since both ESPN and CBSSports.com are fanning the flames on this topic, let’s take a look at rumors that the 0-5 Washington Redskins want Mike Tomlin of the 1-4 Steelers to be their next coach.
ESPN’s Ed Werder sent out this tweet in the wake of the Redskins dismissal of head coach Jay Gruden on Monday.
In a recent conversation with someone who knows Dan Snyder well and is aware of his thoughts on potential next #Redskins head coaches that any list of candidates would include: #Steelers HC Mike Tomlin, #Bucs DC Todd Bowles, #Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy.
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) October 7, 2019
A few hours later, CBS’ Jason La Canfora followed up with a post of his own.
I firmly believe that Dan Snyder's primary objective in his next coaching hire will be to find a way to acquire Mike Tomlin from the Steelers. We'll see how feasible that may be
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 7, 2019
Tomlin’s contract in Pittsburgh lasts through 2021 with a club option for the 2022 season. So any discussion surrounding the potential of the Redskins bringing Tomlin to D.C. would involve compensation back to the Steelers.
If you want a comparison, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave the Oakland Raiders their 2002 and 2003 first-round draft picks, 2002 and 2004 second-round draft picks, and $8 million in cash to get Jon Gruden (Jay’s older brother).
Back in 2002. Let that return simmer in your brain for a minute.
Of course, Gruden was coming off two straight playoff seasons in Oakland, whereas Tomlin may be coming off three straight seasons without a playoff win and two consecutive years not even qualifying for the postseason.
In other words, by the end of this season, it’s likely that Tomlin and Jay Gruden will have won the same amount of playoff games over the last three years.
From a Steelers perspective, I’d make that swap for a lot less than the compensation outlined above. Heck, I might do it for one first-round pick and whatever cash it takes to buy a functional kick returner in free agency.
And, no, I’m not saying that just because Tomlin decided to kick away in overtime at the end of his team’s loss on Sunday.
Well, not entirely.
In a season where the Redskins may be drafting in the top five — if not No. 1 overall — and the Steelers might need a franchise quarterback heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger? Sure. Give me talent at that position over a coach whose time here likely has seen its best days.
The Steelers won’t view it that way. They value coaching stability beyond any other pillar of their franchise. Given that Tomlin has just three playoff wins since the end of the 2010 season with a Hall of Fame quarterback at his disposal, maybe they value that trait to a fault.
My guess is, the idea of swapping out a coach for draft compensation is a conversation that’s not even worth having in the minds of Art Rooney II and Kevin Colbert.
Then again, I never thought they’d trade a first-round pick for a free safety either.
Not to get all O.J. Simpson “if they did it” on you. But here’s what it would take for the Steelers to accommodate the wishes of Redskins owner Dan Snyder if he really, really wants Tomlin.
- Rooney II would need a cash haul and draft picks in the same neighborhood of what Oakland got for Jon Gruden.
- Tomlin would have to want the deal.
I can’t see the Steelers brass doing something like this unless Tomlin said to the management group, “I want out. My time here is done. And I want to go to Washington. I want to be close to my roots in Hampton, Va. I want to be close to my son who plays football at Maryland.
“I want to leave the most stable coaching job in all of sports, for one of the most chaotic jobs in the NFL.”
Remember, Snyder took over as owner of the Redskins in 1999. He’s had seven coaches, not counting interims.
The Steelers have had three since 1969.
We haven’t even scratched the surface on how a deal like this would have to legally manifest within the NFL bylaws and hiring practices. Some have already wondered if these are intentional leaks from Snyder and if that is tampering.
This will be a fun topic to track on this page and on sports talk radio.
But my hunch is we are more likely to see the Pirates reacquire Gerrit Cole in free agency than see a deal between the ‘Skins and Steelers involving Mike Tomlin.
I’ve gone too far, haven’t I?
OK, Charlie Morton. How about that?