Fowler: Marcus Gilbert Would Like To Revisit His Contract Early

The drafting of Florida tackle Marcus Gilbert in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft was the second dip into high-end offensive line pool in as many years, having previously added center Maurkice Pouncey, his college teammate and close friend, in the first round the year prior to that.

Pouncey, in fact, was instrumental in encouraging the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft him the following year. He had such an impact during his rookie season, helping to stabilize an offensive line that proved to be a Super Bowl contender en route to an All-Pro season, that the team deemed his insights worthy of consideration.

It may have taken a few years of developing, but Gilbert ultimately redeemed his friend in recommending him, and the two have been at the heart of the Steelers’ offensive line, now one of the best in the league for years. In fact, both of them received contract extensions the same year, during the summer of 2014.

Pouncey, who had already established himself as a perennial All-Pro that point when healthy, was given a contract that made him the highest-paid player at his position at the time. Gilbert…not so much. To be quite frank, his play since signing what was even then a relatively mid-range contract has been significantly better.

So much better, in fact, that it has become quite obvious that he has outplayed what he is earning, even if he has not yet earned the Pro Bowl accolades that one might expect. I would think that most keen observers of offensive line play readily recognize him as one of the best right tackles in the league.

And he would prefer to be paid like one.

According to Jeremy Fowler, he told reporters yesterday that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, spoke to the front office a week ago about his contract status, but that he doesn’t know about the current stance. He said that it is “complete BS” when players say that they don’t look at contract numbers. But he also said that he wants to be a part of something great in Pittsburgh, and to be remembered for his play and achievements on the field, not his career earnings.

But he understands there are complications. For example, he has three years remaining on the contract extension that he signed at that time. According to Over the Cap, Gilbert signed a five-year, $30 million contract extension, averaging $6 million in new money per season. His base salary in 2017 is just $4 million. In 2018, it only goes up by $50 thousand. Even in 2019, it will not rise to even $5 million in base salary.

Based on cash spendings, and accounting for signing and roster bonuses, Gilbert’s 2017 salary ranks 17th in the league among right tackles, and will rank already 15th on the books for 2018, 14th for 2019. New contracts will be signed between now and then that would knock him further down the list.

It’s clear that his play entitles him to a higher salary, but what are his options when negotiating with a team that takes a hardline stance on extending the contracts of non-quarterback players with more than one year remaining on their current deal?

It will be very interesting to see if anything comes of this, because it should speak to how much they value Gilbert, and their flexibility as contract negotiators. They made some exceptions over the previous two years for Antonio Brown, forwarding him money from future seasons for two years. Do they value Gilbert enough to make a similar exception?

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Steelers072684

    Will the Steelers give him the AB treatment?

  • Steelers12

    Drew rosenhaus still a thing????

  • D.j. Reynolds

    Maybe a restructure like AB with 2 years left, but he won’t get an extension this year!

  • Steve Johnson

    The F/O will not restructure his contract, they never do for players except the QB.

  • srdan

    Our best ol. Pay the man

  • Nathanael Dory

    He seriously outplayed his earning. He deserves it

  • RickM

    One of the the reasons Gilbert likely lobbied hard for AV to be paid two years early was he wanted the same thing. I’m not saying Marcus isn’t underpaid (he is), but you really wonder if this is becoming more of a trend in the NFL. The next fan who whines about teams not honoring their contracts better realize that players do it as well.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Hope the Steelers get rings then start revisiting contracts.

    He certainly deserves whatever the market will bear; but these $$ distractions such as Bell being a No-Show for a team preparing for a run make me nervous.

  • gdeuce

    does he play like a middle of the road RT? because that’s what he’s being paid like the remainder of his contract

  • NW86

    I rarely hear fans whine about teams not honoring contracts. They whine about players holding out when underpaid, but when the player isn’t living up to his contract, fans fully expect the player to take a pay cut or get cut.

  • RickM

    I agree he’s underpaid. But do we go through our roster and figure out who is underpaid and adjust all their deals? I will have no problem if Marcus is paid more. I’m just not sure where this ends, or if it ends.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    Nope. Sorry. All of this is extremely simply if you stick to your code/rules. He should get a new contract a year before his is up (if he’s still playing well), just like everyone else. What’s he going to do? Hold out next year? Good luck when you still have another two years on your deal.

    I’m fine with them restructuring/forwarding money, but that’s it. He signed a contract. He knew there was a risk that he’d outperform it. Hopefully he EXPECTED to. Can’t start caving on this stuff or else everybody on the team wants a new contract anytime they have a career year.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    Dealing with Sports Agents seems to be a lot like raising a child or training a dog.

    They’re going to push you as far as you let them. Drawing a firm line and keeping a CONSISTENT approach will lead to a lot less bull**** to deal with both in the short term and in the future. DON’T GIVE IN!

  • popsiclesticks

    I think it’s a pretty good move to do so. People might think it could start a bad trend, but the way I look at it – if you have multiple players who can make a decent argument that they are perhaps the league’s best at their position, that’s a good thing.

  • VaDave

    To bad we can’t subtract salary for regressors., that would really make it interesting.

  • RickM

    There are some fans, usually when they are arguing for higher than expected salaries, who raise the non-guaranteed portion of contracts. They’re right to some degree, but they seldom realize that players’ demands can be excessive and they also never get that the player can underperform or be injured and he’ll get all his guaranteed money. The last word is your if desired,

  • popsiclesticks

    Well, you can actually. A lot of teams do. They tried to take money from Harrison and had to cut him a few years ago, for one.

  • VaDave

    I think the Steelers do this as well as any team in the league.

  • popsiclesticks

    Not everybody on the team is among the best at their positions and has been for 3 years. You’re not going to have to give everybody money unless your team is loaded with All-Pros. I’d just bump some of his remaining salary up.

  • VaDave

    We had this crap going on in the dynasty years too. It’s part of the game.

  • popsiclesticks

    What are distractions, really? My life is full of distractions and yet I can still do my job because that’s just how it is.

  • popsiclesticks

    Yeah, these guys are pros. It happens to just about every team. Marshawn Lynch made contract noise just about every year.

  • VaDave

    Not often, unless you include ” cap ‘casualties”. Seriously, players don’t line up often writing checks to the team at year end, which is what I meant.

  • RickM

    I agree. Fortunately the Steelers seldom do. It’ll be interesting with Gilbert as he is underpaid.

  • Xclewsive

    Gilbert and his agent can ask doesn’t mean the Steelers will oblige their request.

  • RickM

    We do demand players accept less occasionally. But I would bet on balance that there are more who underperform yet still get their money

  • popsiclesticks

    It’s also going to make players less amenable to signing with you. Marcus Gilbert isn’t going to feel less underpaid because of some precedent that was set 4 years ago or whatever.

    Teams do the same bull****. They tried to get Harrison to take a paycut. Gilbert isn’t holding out. If we lived our lives like we expect players to, they’d be worse. I don’t think the principle changes just because there are millions of dollars involved.

  • VaDave

    Pretty much that’s what happens with the Steelers to keep guys happy until the last year of the contract. Odds however, by the end of Gilbert’s contract, who know what kind of shape he’s going to be in. Best to evaluate closer to the end, than midpoint.

  • popsiclesticks

    They restructured AB multiple times.

  • popsiclesticks

    That’s exactly what I’d do.

  • popsiclesticks

    No they don’t, but teams don’t either. I think it’s pretty much analogous. Teams will give you more money for the next year, but they won’t write you a check for what you did the previous year. Same way they’ll take money from your next year for the way you played in your previous year.

    I’m getting carried away but I’m making sense in my own head!

  • popsiclesticks

    True, which is why I think the AB treatment is best. You keep a guy happy (a guy who has earned it) and you don’t get burned if he falls off the map.

  • RickM

    And players usually get every dollar promised if they play up to expectations. Look at Timmons. He was restructured several times and therefore had a $15M final year hit and the Steelers honored it. I am not pro-owners, but I think it’s exaggerated at times how much teams take advantage of players.

  • PapaJuju

    ?? He is actually an excellent agent and has left much of the drama behind.

  • NYCSteelCurtain

    Eh, I’d say Pouncey is out best. Tough though, RT’s don’t get much love outside of Marshall Yanda who is a stud.

  • ergomesh

    I am sure they will not do anything until we get Tuitt signed long term. He is the top priority. Then in 3 years Tuitt can say the same thing when he is considered underpaid.

  • popsiclesticks

    Let’s think of recent Steeler FAs and resignings:

    L. Green – underperformed, got $6 mil of his contract

    M. Mitchell – While somewhat polarizing, I think he’s earned his $5 mil a year even if I’m not a huge fan

    Ben – earned it

    L. Woodley – way underperformed (though he did also outperform his rookie deal substantially)

    L. Timmons – I think he earned it

    C. Heyward – I think he’s earned it so far outside of the injury

    A, Brown – Way outperformed

    Gilbert – way outperformed

    Pouncey – earned outside of injuries

    Foster – way outperformed

    DeCastro – earned thusfar

    Harrison (first extension) – mostly earned

    Heath – earned

    I don’t know – I’m probably missing a lot but I think a lot of these guys earned their extensions

  • popsiclesticks

    Yanda is a guard, right?

    But I agree that RTs are undervalued (that is changing, though). Great pass rushers come from that side all throughout the league, so you can’t hide anyone there.

  • VaDave

    Well, call me dumb as a sack of rocks…lol!! Seriously, this is a big misconception. Teams, and most employers for that matter, only pay for what you are likely to produce, or future value, not on past performance.

  • popsiclesticks

    Oh, absolutely. I’m not arguing otherwise.

    I also think Gilbert will continue to earn it if you give him a bump this year from the backend of his deal.

  • popsiclesticks

    He didn’t actually receive $15 mil last year, though. That was from money already paid. They didn’t cut him because they didn’t think cutting him would be worth the $8 mil they’d save.

    He made $7 mil (I think) and just got $6 mil on the market.

  • VaDave

    The Steelers set the standard for honoring contracts. Obviously they feel that contracts are fairly priced and fair for all parties and expect all parties, themselves included , to honor them. The only one I can remember that got the shaft was Troy Polamalu. But his play had deteriorated so drastically the Steelers really had no choice.

  • RickM

    Yes, unfortunately Troy’s decline made it impossible for a graceful exit.

  • RickM

    Good point. You’re right it was a cap hit.

  • LucasY59

    IF the team needs to free up cap space, I could see them restructuring and giving him some $ early, but I dont think they want to mortgage the future unless they have too

    Ben eventually retiring makes it so they should be able to push some money forward and it wont hit them as hard as it has previously, but I think for the most part they want to keep $ available to keep/re-sign younger players (Shazier, Dupree, Burns etc)

  • LucasY59

    he wont get a extension until he has 1 yr left, so there could be 2 restructures if they wanted to do something similar to what they did with AB, but this yr the cap situation is pretty good, and this is the 1st I have heard of any talk of him wanting to restructure so I dont think it will happen until next yr (if at all)

  • LucasY59

    has happened a lot, they dont give extensions to players unless they are entering their final yr of the contract, but restructures have happened for multiple non QB players recently

  • LucasY59

    and when they gave him the contract there were plenty of reasons to think he was overpaid and at best would be a mid tier RT (since he failed as a LT and had injuries it was a risk to give him the contract) but luckily Marcus has played better since signing the deal

  • LucasY59

    iirc Rosenhaus is ABs agent as well so the situation could end up being very similar to what happened with Brown, he was outperforming his contract with 3 yrs left, and the team restructured twice before giving him an extension, in Gilberts case I think he wouldve needed to get to the pro bowl last yr to get a restructure before this season starts, but if he gets to the pro bowl next yr it would be much more likely the team forwards some of his contract a yr early next offseason

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Yes; but it is still distracting.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    If they win the Super Bowl; then any distractions were insignificant.

  • Ray Powell

    I don’t think Gilbert has the same status at his position that AB has at his. The Steelers have more pressing demands on their salary cap, like extending Tuitt and whether or not they’re going to re-sign Bell next offseason, not to mention an extension for Shazier. Also, I think AB is a special player they made something of an exception for. Marcus, you were happy to sign the contract, now play under it.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    The difference is that most of us do not sign contracts and our companies are not limited by salary caps. Hate that comparison. Even ignoring the drastic difference in dollars involved, it makes absolutely no sense to compare the two.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    Forward pay some money from his last year as a bonus next year, sign him to an extension the following year. Same recipe as AB. No offense to MG, but if they held strong with AB, I don’t see anyway they make an exception for him.

  • Mr. Goodkat

    If you re-read what I wrote, you’ll see that’s exactly what I said should happen. That is VERY different than giving him any “new money”/a new deal. And he’s been playing this well for 2 years. Not 3. He’s only on the 3rd year of his “new” deal now.

    At the end of the day both the Steelers and he took a risk signing a 5 year deal. If either party forsaw a problem with it, they didn’t have to sign it. They knew he may not live up to it and they’d have to deal with dead money. He knew he might outproform it and leave money on the table. I don’t blame him/his agent for asking for more, but I also wont feel bad for him when he receives $0 in new money until he has 1-year left on his contract.

  • Biggie

    Tuitt first, though definitely want Gilbert around a long time.

  • RickM

    I agree that comparing most other jobs to salaried-capped sporting leagues is unusual.

  • Alan Tman

    I’m thinking Gilbert took a pay cut the year after he signed this deal, because of poor play, so maybe he deserves a raise now.

  • Alan Tman

    I think Gilbert took a pay cut after year one, because he played poorly, so maybe they should just put the contract back to it’s original state at least.

  • stan

    I laughed when I saw this piece. Gilbert is 29 and we have him for 3(!) more years. Of course he wants to secure a new deal, and of course that PoS Rosenhaus is publicizing it to try to put pressure on the team. With all of the team’s attention on Tuitt, there’s no way, no way at all, that the team is looking to shell out more money for a guy who we’ve already signed through the end of his best years. Sure Gilbert’s playing like the borderline pro bowler he is, but he signed a contract that was appropriate for that level of player when he inked it. This isn’t an Antonio Brown situation where the player signed a long term deal and then exploded to another level. Gilbert got and is getting exactly what he deserves. If he makes it three more years at this level of play, then I’m sure the team will be happy to offer him an extension- and at that point he’ll be paid like the useful player he is except with the team covering itself for his impending decline.
    Long story short: An extension now would be absolutely crazy. It isn’t happening and you can bet that Rosenhaus practically wrote that story for Fowler to sign his name to.

  • Steelers12

    Well then he has changed

  • RickM

    He’s already been restructured twice. Of course that was for salary cap management as you mention and and it did not raise or lower the total value of his second contract. It sounds like he’s looking for definite new money this time. He’s going to be 32 at the end of his contract. I’m not sure he’ll gamble on getting an extension and just accept future monies being bumped forward.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I don’t even think he is a stud. He’s good but not necessarily Pro Bowl type. Foster has played his whole career for probably a 40-50% discount and tremendously outperformed. No new money. Sorry.

  • Matthew Marczi

    That’s pretty semantic, given that it was an extension, and that he got his signing bonus for that extension in 2014, so he has been doing this since signing the extension for three years.

  • John Phillips

    DeCastro – earned thusfar – except for the Philadelphia game

  • John Phillips

    Depot should add your comment to the actual story

  • Gautam Ramani

    NFL contrasts suck for players. It’s like a “Heads I win, Tails you lose” situation for players. If they outperform their contracts, nothing they can do (like MG). If they underperform, they get cut. WTF? With basketball
    And baseball players getting unreal, guaranteed money, the players should negotiate hard the next tome CBA comes up.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Fact is he signed it. He agreed that is worth what he is getting.

  • Rocksolid20

    Shazier may get a light extention , but his time away from the
    field leads me to believe he will not get a huge , long term deal .

  • Rocksolid20

    Our DB’s would owe the team money .

  • Rocksolid20

    If you don’t like your contract , find another job .

  • Steve Johnson

    They never actually restructured his contract, they just paid him money in advance from his original contract.

  • stan

    I think they’re more reflective of real life than contracts in other sports. Name me another profession where you can perform horribly or not even try and still get paid, which is what happens in baseball and basketball long-term deals. Even in football, if Gilbert had signed his deal and then immediately gotten hurt or decided not to try, he would have kept his signing bonus. That’s a better deal than he’d get in any other profession.
    To me, Gilbert’s contract is a perfect example of how contracts are supposed to work in the NFL. Gilbert got what was an excellent deal for him at the start of the contract and by the end of the contract it doesn’t look as good. I’m sure the team would have been happy to give him the same amount of money and backload the deal or take it out of the signing bonus so that Gilbert would earn more salary as salaries escalated, but I have no doubt that Gilbert wanted more money up front.

  • Ray Powell

    Don’t know about that, he’s a difference maker when he is on the field. In any case, it won’t be done now, they’ve taken up his option for next year so it’ll probably be next offseason it’ll get done, so it probably depends on his performance and health this season.

  • NYCSteelCurtain

    I think they’ll let Gilbert play out his contract and promote someone like Hawkins who will be cheaper. The money along the line is just too much to warrant another huge deal. We also gotta sign Shazier, Leveon, Tuitt, Bud to long term contracts soon.

    Mitchell is another one, his salary is too high and should come off the books. Need more support there.