Value Of Extension For Marcus Gilbert Up For Debate

As previously reported, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Drew Rosenhaus, the agent of tackle Marcus Gilbert, have allegedly had preliminary talks about a potential contract extension before the regular season begins.

Gilbert, entering his fourth season, is in the final year of his rookie contract, and would be scheduled to hit free agency should he play out this season without coming to an agreement on a new contract.

To no surprise, there are many followers of the team who do not support such a move.

On the surface, I have no significant objections to it—provided that the numbers are reasonable and it doesn’t prevent the organization from accomplishing higher priority goals, such as working out an extension with Cortez Allen.

While the organization still has two years each left on the contracts of Kelvin Beachum and Mike Adams, their futures are no more set in stone than is Gilbert’s. Beachum may be the favorite to start the season as the left tackle now, for example, but that doesn’t mean he will be paid like a franchise left tackle when the time comes.

I have written multiple times this offseason on the topic of the offensive tackles and how it is critical that the Steelers start getting their answers at the position this season. To that end, it would seem more prudent to allow Gilbert to finish out his contract before committing a certain amount of money to him.

Gilbert has essentially been a starter for his entire career. He has played in 35 games in three years, and started 34 of them. A significant ankle injury caused him to miss the majority of the 2012 season, which limited him to five games.

In other words, he will be seeking starter money for his services, naturally. The market for right tackles over the past offseason settled in to the $4-6 million per year range, and that is not wholly unreasonable for Gilbert. But working out a deal now rather than once he hits free agency might make more financial sense.

Additionally, you don’t want to have zero answers next offseason with both Beachum and Adams entering their final years. Having Gilbert already in hand could be a negotiating chip in possible contract extensions next season.

Of course, you could potentially run the risk of paying starter money for a player who ultimately loses his starting position, which would again suggest that waiting is the most prudent position to take. And it might be.

But there’s no compelling reason to me when I watch Gilbert play that says he isn’t capable of being an everyday starter. We have to consider the amount of injuries that either caused him to miss time or he had to play through, the latter being the case last season.

And he also sounds like a player who is not only maturing, but becoming accountable, and invested in individual and team success, as reflected in this recent quote published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“I’m just coming out here trying to get better, trying to become a complete player, trying to win a Super Bowl. I know the guys we have up front—they drafted us there for a reason—we’re the group that can get us over the hump. It’s time now. It’s time for us to get going. Every guy has a chip on their shoulder”.

I’m not sure that we would have heard this from him last season. We’ve heard him talk about his own individual ambitions before, but not so much the broader collective. Perhaps it’s just the natural process of aging:

“As you get older you realize your snaps are limited. You only play the game for so long. I just want to maximize every chance I have to be here and show them what I’m worth. I don’t want to miss any time. I don’t want anyone to take my reps. That’s the type of demeanor you have to have”.

This is a far cry from where he was from a mental standpoint in his rookie season. Should he blossom under Mike Munchak, then a contract extension now would look awfully smart in the future. It’s a gamble, but if all the other offseason checkmarks are done, it’s something to consider in late July or August.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Paddy

    I think Gilbert, Adams and Beachum are question marks, this season will say a lot about the position.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I propose that the front office handle this situation the same way they handled the Ziggy Hood situation. Let Gilbert play out the final year.

    In both cases we spent fairly high draft picks on a player that has shown to be average. Time to cut our losses. Rather than spending $4 million/yr. to prolong the mistake of choosing an average player… bite the bullet and let him go.

    This year we drafted Tuitt (who projects to be better than Hood) and we’ll be paying him $1 million/yr. instead of $4 million/yr. We can use that extra $3 million to sign a bigger need elsewhere.

    Next year, it’s the offense’s turn for a 1st rounder. There are a number of quality tackles projected to be available well into the 20’s. I say we draft a real LT and pay him $2-ish million/yr. for the next 5 years. Then use the extra money to fill a different need. Plus we’ll get comp picks for Hood and Gilbert.

  • Steelers12328882

    The Steelers are smart. While most of us will sit back in our chairs and declare Cortez Allen to be the highest priority from here on out the Steelers have already proven that not to be true. Pouncey was no doubt who they wanted to secure long term, and now that word of a contract with Gilbert is being discussed I have to admit it makes sense. It’s obvious the Steelers don’t value the CB position as much as the fans do. The OT position on the other hand is a mess. There’s so much uncertainty with the top 3 players. Definitely a gamble no matter which way we go.

  • steeltown

    At the very least I’d wait till after training camp and maybe even after a couple preseason games to see if Gilbert holds down the spot. If Adams (and that’s a big “if”) outplays Gilbert then the need is far less.

    I could see a 4yr $16MIL contract offer ‘IF’ they view him as the starting RT

  • joed32

    Problem is that you have to draft pretty high to get a real LT, maybe even top ten.

  • joed32

    You’re right, we can’t just dump everybody and every team has some journeymen on their OL. No one could afford to have all really good players. I say let Munchek make the call whether to re-sign him or not. He’s been watching all of the film on these guys and probably has a pretty good idea of their talent level.

  • kev4heels

    Just b/c there are “preliminary” discussions doesn’t mean a deal will be consummated. I’m guessing the Steelers will let him play out the year to see what they have in him. Unless Gilbert is will to take 3 mil per year, a deal won’t be done. Doesn’t make sense for either side TBH.

  • Zach

    Unless his agent accepts 3 Mil/yr (which I don’t see happening since the guy is Drew Rosenhaus), I don’t see a deal happening. Anything more than that would be overpaying to have an average (up to know) starter.

  • Steel PAul

    I do trust the FO. I do.

    I guess I will just have to wonder what they’re doing until we see the outcome.

    That said, I don’t get this at all. It can’t be clear who will start at RT at this point and Gilbert has not met expectations, injuries or otherwise.

  • Biggie

    I have no problem extending Gilbert as long as it doesn’t affect extending Allen. Gilbert should be able to solidify the RT spot with the help of Munchak.

  • srdan

    I think the same thing.

    But I had teh same thought heading into last year. And nothing got answered for me. Unless I’m refusing to accept that what we saw is what they are. In that case, tehre is no need for extensions for starter money, IMO.

    Although….I have to give it to Gilbert. I appreciate tough players that play through injuries, and he does that.

  • srdan

    I think your theory is flawed. Just becuase Pouncey got the deal first doesn’t make him the highest prioirty. We as fans often forget that it takes two to sign. By all reports (whatever that means) 93 has had a deal on the table. Should we assume that he is higher than Pouncey?

    But also we make a bigger deal of “higher priority signings” than it actually is. I think the FO looks at it as a pool of players they have to sign. Every year there is money and you have to sign that pool. In that pool are Allen, gilbert, pouncey, worldis and cam. All of them can be signed, nobody is eating the other persons bread since there are another 52 contracts that can be modified to keep the pool.

    The only priority we should be talking about is if those players are in “the pool”.

    I’m heading to the pool…lol.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Not true. It helps to have a top ten pick. But I can list numerous examples of guys we could’ve drafted in our late first round slots.

    In 2006, Marcus McNeill was drafted at 2.18 (pro bowler)
    In 2007, Joe Staley was drafted at 1.28 (pro bowler)
    In 2008, Duane Brown was drafted at 1.26 (pro bowler)
    In 2009, Will Beatty was drafted at 2.28 (highly rated starter)
    In 2010, Roger Saffold was drafted at 2.1 (highly rated starter)
    In 2011, Nate Solder was drafted at 1.17 (highly rated starter)

    None of these guys were “surprises”. All of them were rated as solid left tackle prospects coming out of college. We just chose to go in a different direction.

    The 2015 mock drafts are already packed with a number of potential left tackles that could be had in the late 1st.

  • joed32

    I think you’re over rating some of those players and if a left tackle is picked in the 2nd round and becomes a probowler then it’s a surprise to all of the teams that passed on him in round 1. We have recently drafted 2 2nd round tackles trying to get a “real” one. It’s not that easy.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    First of all, I’m not over-rating any of them. The NFL players (who actually play the game) are the ones who vote for the pro bowl. If you can rate prospects better than them maybe you should start your own NFL website?

    As far as the three younger prospects go, you should probably check their ratings by the professional sites on line before you weigh in. They are all highly rated.

    You just said “Problem is that you have to draft pretty high to get a real LT, maybe even top ten.”

    I just showed you six straight picks in six straight years that refute your opinion. The fact that you don’t acknowledge that is typical I guess.

    Your “surprise” argument is a cop out. Every year teams pass on the better prospect in the 1st round because they have a bigger need elsewhere and they want an immediate starter elsewhere.

    Many of the left tackles I listed needed a year to add weight or refine technique (and were evaluated as such before the draft). Some teams pass because they don’t want to wait.

    All I know is Colbert has refused to draft a 1st round LT since he’s been here. And we still don’t have a solution at LT… Coincidence?

  • Steelers12328882

    Yeah that makes sense, but I actually think Worilds was a higher priority. Who knows how things actually go down, but I agree it’s a 2 way street. Guys like Mike Wallace, James Harrison, Brett Keisel and Worilds are on record as having turned down offers and that immediately makes guys like AB, Pouncey, etc. a higher priority.

  • Jacob Dixon

    3 years 15 mil 2 mil guarenteed

  • wdhammer

    Lets see what Mike M the line coach has to say first…I’m sure he knows talent or doesn’t

  • joed32

    Yep Staley needed 3 according to one of their writers, you make it sound like they grow on trees. Lots of tackles drafted are never any good.

    “For a little while there, nearer the beginning of his career, I was worried about left tackleJoe Staley. His first couple seasons were filled with mental slip-ups, with the “rookie mistakes” following him at least three seasons. He was never a bad tackle by any means, but he didn’t overburden me with an abundance of confidence, we’ll say.”

  • steelster

    Offer him a contract with starter based incentives that should keep him motivated.

  • SfSteeler

    i hate to hear talk of a required amount of money for ‘starter’ players….just because youre a starter doesnt mean your above average, which should be the level of play for a starter, but not always the case…especially in this example…

    why pay so much for someone who has been average his entire short career? why not pay Beachum now, because all he does is improve and perform everywhere we ask him to?

  • steeltown

    Gilbert has played admirably, last year was mediocre but his first two yrs he played well. Before the injury in 2012 he didn’t allow a single sack ‘on passing downs’ through the first 6games