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Could Mike Tomlin Leave the Pittsburgh Steelers for the Washington Redskins?

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Could the Pittsburgh Steelers trade head coach Mike Tomlin to the Washington Redskins?

After a winless start to the season, the Washington Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden. Assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan will temporarily lead the team but, with little else to look forward to in Washington, all eyes are turning towards the team's coaching search.

Over the past couple of days, a list of candidates has emerged, with one name standing out: Mike Tomlin. But would the Pittsburgh Steelers coach really throw in the towel and to move to Washington, D.C.?

The Washington Redskins' recent struggles

Despite their success in the 1970s and 1980s, the Washington Redskins have struggled since in the 21st Century. Since the year 2000, they've only made the playoffs four times; three of those appearances ended in the Wild Card game, and one lasted into the Divisional round.

Jay Gruden took over the head coaching role in 2014 but didn't turn things around. He did lead Washington into the postseason in 2015, but even that appearance has become a sour memory. The successful Redskins offense was led by Sean McVay, who would depart for a head coaching job with the Los Angeles Rams.

All in all, Gruden finished his time in Washington with a 35-49-1record. While he didn't lift the team to the next level, the entire franchise's flaws shouldn't fall on his shoulders.

Mike Tomlin's time with the Pittsburg Steelers

After a few seasons as the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings, Mike Tomlin became the sixteenth head coach in Pittsburgh Steelers history. While his inexperience—along with the fact that he was replacing Bill Cowher—raised some eyebrows, Tomlin quickly silenced the critics.

After leading the Steelers to the Wild Card game during his first season in charge, Tomlin lifted the Lombardi Trophy during his second year on the job; he was also named the 2008 NFL Coach of the Year. He would return to the Super Bowl and lose two years later. Playoff success would continue, albeit more sporadically.

After his second Super Bowl appearance, Tomlin has made the playoffs in five out of nine seasons. His Steelers have lost in the Wild Card game twice, the Divisional Round twice, and the AFC Championship game once. Performances have fallen off in the past two seasons, however, suggesting that the coach's message may be turning stale.

Could Tomlin be traded to Washington?

Since Tomlin's contract with the Steelers runs through 2021, with an option for one additional season, the head coach would have to be traded to the Washington Redskins. Pittsburgh would presumably ask for a hefty haul in return. In 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent the Oakland Raiders four draft picks and $8 million for head coach John Gruden, so there's some precedent for the deal.

Pittsburgh would presumably demand a massive overpayment, however. The franchise famously values stability; they're unlikely to simply flip their head coach if there's any other way to turn their season around. Tomlin may have struggled in recent years, but it's hard to imagine the Rooney family running him out of town on a rail, especially during a season blighted by quarterback injuries.

Given the state of the Redskins, it's unlikely any marquee candidate will be beating down the door to FedEx Field to demand the job. But, in the NFL, stranger things have definitely happened.

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Joe Kozlowski
Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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Joe Kozlowski Sports Editor

Joe Kozlowski began his career as a sports journalist in 2013 and joined Sports7 in 2019. He covers the NBA and soccer for Sports7, with specialties in legacy NBA players such as Michael Jordan and Premier League club Arsenal. Off the clock, he's a Kansas City Chiefs fan and a hockey goalie. Growing up loving Shaquille O'Neal and reading everything he could about the great big men throughout NBA history — likely because he was still tall enough, at least relative to his peers, to play center — he's continued to love learning about and exploring the historical and story-based sides of the basketball archives. As for Arsenal, Joe spent a year living in London and latched onto the local support of the club. He's barely missed a match since, loving Arsene Wenger, enduring the Banter Era, and following along through rebuilds. The Premier League interest developed into a passionate following of the Champions League, Europe's big five league, and international soccer as a whole when played at the highest level. Regardless of the sport, Joe is captivated by the stories of athletes beyond the box scores and how they push the envelope — both in terms of what we think a human is capable of accomplishing and how they find new competitive tactics to win.

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