Dec 31, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Mike Tomlin will prepare the Pittsburgh Steelers to face the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card round.

After that, however, the Super Bowl-winning head coach’s future remains unclear.

Appearing on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown, Adam Schefter broke down the uncertain future of several coaches across the league. And included on the NFL insider’s list was a curious candidate in Tomlin, whose team remained alive for a postseason berth heading into Sunday’s Week 18 slate.

“People in Pittsburgh want him fired — they’re not firing Mike Tomlin,” Schefter said. “Here’s the thing that’s interesting: he’s got a year left on his contract. And there are some people around the league who believe that Mike Tomlin could decide eventually to take some time off like Sean Payton did. Maybe take a year off. We’ll see if that’s something that’s on his mind. We’re leaning safe, but Mike Tomlin gets to dictate what happens here, not the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re not firing him. He’s staying on — but he’s staying on if he wants to. But if he decides that he’d like to walk, well, that’s a different subject.”

Schefter went on to speculate where Tomlin could land should he decide to leave the Steelers following the upcoming postseason.

“He’s from Washington [D.C.]. His wife loves Los Angeles,” Schefter noted. “Maybe one of them wants to lob a call into the Steelers to see if they could wind up doing something with them.”

While it’s unclear whether the Steelers ultimately qualifying for the playoffs changes any of this, Schefter essentially laid out two paths for this to be Tomlin’s final season in Pittsburgh. In invoking the head coaching vacancies of the Commanders and the Chargers, Schefter implied that those teams could attempt to acquire the 51-year-old in a trade with the Steelers.

The other path would see Tomlin decide to take the 2024 season off from coaching. Although in that scenario, he likely wouldn’t be far from the public eye.

In his newsletter on Monday, the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand stated that Tomlin would be a hot commodity in the TV world should he decide to take any time off from coaching.

“If that happens, Tomlin would be a highly coveted NFL TV analyst for either studio work or games,” Marchand wrote. “Over the years of talking with TV people associated with the NFL, Tomlin is almost unanimously mentioned as someone who could be excellent at TV.”

That Tomlin would be in high demand isn’t necessarily a surprise. Not only has he had unprecedented success while coaching one of the NFL’s most storied franchises for the better part of the past two decades, but he’s also been one of the league’s most charismatic head coaches in that time.

Of course, you need more than just a track record and a personality to translate to television. And ex-coaches are often plagued on on-air by their unwillingness to be critical of their former (and perhaps future) colleagues. Still, should Tomlin become available, one would imagine that every league-affiliated network would be interested. And he doesn’t necessarily need to be coaching the Chargers to wind up in Los Angeles next season, with both Fox and NFL Network having much of their coverage based there.

[New York Post]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.