If I were to tell you that Pittsburgh Steelers Marukice Pouncey received a contract extension prior to the start of the 2014 season before Ben Roethlisberger received his, you’d probably think I had one too many Iron City’s. You probably would be steaming mad if an offensive lineman who has been injury prone the last few seasons were to get a contract offer before the Steelers’ franchise QB. Well according to Scott Brown over at ESPN.com, such a thing may very well happen.
During Brown’s Saturday mailbag Q&A, he received a tweet from a fan who asked if Pouncey, Cam Heyward, or Jason Worilds before they get too pricey – essentially do the Steelers sign them now?
— barefoot bandit (@alltootrue88) April 4, 2014
Brown replied that he fully expects Worilds and Pouncey to get extensions before the start of 2014, and that he would advise the team to wait on Cam Heyward. Brown’s logic is flawed. Yes, Pouncey is a three time Pro-Bowler and considered one of the top centers in the league. However, he is injury prone, and despite that his ACL injury last season was not really his fault – a blown knee is a blown knee. Until we seem him in action, we have no idea how well he’s healed up and how durable he will be in the trenches where it’s expected to be especially physical with Mike Munchak’s coaching and the arrival of the LeVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blount running duo. The Steelers line struggled until halfway through the season, but did very well the last eight games. Their struggles could hardly fall on the fact that Pouncey was out of the lineup, but he also cannot be credited with the improvement and good play of the offensive line that helped LeVeon Bell be considered for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
On the other side of the coin, it seems that Brown is also wrong about not having any urgency in signing Heyward. Heyward broke out in the second half of the season and really has no signs of slowing down going into 2014 – the final year of his contract. If Heyward slams on the gas pedal and doesn’t let up this season, he could very well prove far too expensive as an UFA. I would argue that Heyward should be signed and lets see if Pouncey can prove his durability and that he is absolutely the dominant center he’s been deemed.
Regardless of you flavor of favor of signing Pouncey or Heyward first to an extension, the outrage should be around the fact that these guys could be extended before Ben Roethlisberger. The Worilds extension makes sense and would actually free up more cap space. No problems there. But, if there is a line of players getting extended while Big Ben, the guy that should be the highest priority for this team and the Rooney family, all hell could erupt in the ‘Burgh.
All three of those players (Worilds, Pouncey, Heyward) are replaceable. Big Ben – currently irreplaceable on this team as he is in his prime and will be for at least three more years. He wants to retire a Steeler. With Ben on the field, he is the best chance for a notch in the win column every single week. Signing players like Heyward and especially Pouncey is another insult to injury to Ben and his stature with this football team.
I hope that along with Brown’s flawed logic about Pouncey, that his prediction of a Pouncey extension is equally as flawed. The Steelers need to sign Ben, and they need to make that the priority.