This afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have signed offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year contract extension.
Set to become a free agent at the end of the season, the 26-year old will be in Pittsburgh through the 2019 season with this new contract which is worth $30 million over the five years. This is an average value of $6 million per season which makes him tied for the fourth highest paid right tackle in the NFL.
A week or so ago it had been reported that the team was working on a contract extension with him so this contract doesn’t come as a surprise. The two sides had been working on it for a while now.
Drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Florida, he has started 34 games at right tackle over the past three seasons and played in 35 games.
Most of this missed time comes from the 2012 season where he played in only five games due to an ankle injury that saw him placed on injured reserve.
As a rookie be started 13 games at right tackle and was graded as the 35th best offensive tackle in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (out of 75). He was the 14th best right tackle according to their grading. With an overall grade of 2.7, his rookie season was his best season in his short career.
Last season he was ranked as the 50th best offensive tackle in the league according to Pro Football Focus and he was the 26th best right tackle.
With this re-signing, the Steelers have shown that keeping their young offensive linemen was one of their priorities this offseason. Earlier they had re-signed center Maurkice Pouncey to a contract that pays him as the best center in the league.
Investing in the offensive line is a good idea for Pittsburgh as theirs haven’t been very good over the past few seasons causing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to take too many hits and to be under pressure too much. A weak offensive line is the quickest way to have an offense struggle.
It was a good idea to lock up Gilbert for the long term as he has shown he has the ability to be the right tackle for the years to come. However he has been inconsistent during his time in the black and gold.
This new contract pays him as a top right tackle, but he isn’t at that level. He has the ability to be there, but he isn’t yet and may not ever reach that level. Like with Pouncey––and many other teams this offseason––Pittsburgh is paying Gilbert this money as they believe he can become a player at this level. The team knows he isn’t there right now, but they are banking––no pun intended––on him reaching this level of play.