The Pittsburgh Steelers locked up their center for the long term by signing Maurkice Pouncey to a new five-year extension. The deal that he signed will reportedly be worth about $44 million and will keep him in Pittsburgh until 2019. He is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in the first game of the 2013 season, but during OTA’s he said he felt no pain in the knee. This new deal will make him the highest paid center in the NFL on a yearly basis earning him nearly $8.8 million per year.
The offensive line has been a major weakness for the Steelers in the last few seasons. Over that time a lot of the teams higher draft picks have been spent on improving the unit. One of those picks was spent on Maurkice Pouncey in 2010 when they drafted him with the 18th overall pick out of the University of Florida. Pouncey’s major weakness since coming into the NFL is his ability to stay on the field and not get injured. He has missed significant time since 2010, including having to miss playing in the Super Bowl during his rookie year.
This move comes at an interesting time for the Steelers, as they have been hamstrung by the salary cap in recent years. The salary cap has weighed heavily on the teams flexibility to make moves to improve the roster and it has shown in the last two 8-8 seasons. It is no surprise that the Steelers want to lock up the most talented member of their offensive line, but it may be another deal that they could live to regret by the end of it considering Pouncey’s injury history. The reason the team is in such bad salary cap shape right now is because they signed players to long and very lucrative deals. They should have made the contract length shorter so they could reevaluate at the end of it and not have to release the player because they are past their prime. Only time will tell if the Pouncey deal turns out to be like the deal they signed with Lamar Woodley who also had an injury history. Woodley’s deal became a burden for the Steelers during every offseason it covered having to constantly be renegotiated and ending up with the team releasing him this offseason.
2014 is a big year for the Steelers who need to prove they can make it back to the playoffs in a very tough AFC North. Most of the moves the team has made this offseason have been focused on improving the defense until this move to stabilize their offensive line. Clearly Pittsburgh thinks they can move forward with the offensive line talent they currently have on the roster. For them to make it back to the top of the AFC North they have to get great improvement on the offensive line so Big Ben does not take as much of a pounding in the backfield as he is used to. That will start with Pouncey as the team sees him as a major part of their future and will be counted on to lead the unit.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have locked up one of their young stars by handing center Maurkice Pouncey a five-year extension worth up to $44 million. Hopefully this can bring stability to their offensive line unit that is in desperate need of it. Only time will tell if the deal works out for Pittsburgh but as of now Pouncey is the highest paid center in the NFL.
Commentary by Max Petkevicius