“Sleep on it” is the best advice anyone ever gave me.
It’s too easy to make rash decisions and judgements and regret them later when a simple review of the relevant factors could save a lot of grief.
That’s how I chose to approach the Maurkice Pouncey extension.
To recap: the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly signed Pouncey to a five-year, $44-million contract extension with a signing bonus of $13 million, which would make him the highest-paid center in the NFL.
The first knee-jerk reaction: what in the name of Mike Webster is Pittsburgh doing?
Pouncey just missed an entire year with a torn ACL.
How could he possibly have earned that contract?
Knee reconstruction surgery has advanced leaps and bounds in recent years (see Peterson, Adrian), but there’s no way to know how a player will respond to the physical and mental toll of rehabilitation or how much rust will have accumulated in a year out of football.
By all accounts, Pouncey is not the best center in football when healthy, so it doesn’t make any sense to pay him more than the likes of Carolina’s Ryan Kalil and Cleveland’s Alex Mack coming off of major surgery.
The Steelers simply don’t make irresponsible financial commitments like this.
The other, opposite knee-jerk reaction: yet another brilliant move by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They locked in arguably the best center in the league, ensuring his future anchoring Pittsburgh’s offensive line.
This was the time to strike.
Pouncey was a first-team All-Pro Center in 2011 and 2012 after being named to the second team in 2010, his rookie year.
Look at what happened to the Steelers’ offensive line without Pouncey in 2013: it disintegrated.
Pittsburgh needed to make this move to keep one of its best players in the Steel City.
The Steelers’ management never makes overly risky financial decisions, why start now?
The most appropriate reaction likely falls somewhere in the between, an Aristotelian mean, if you will.
Pouncey had just one year left on his rookie contract heading into 2014.
While it’s unlikely he would leave Pittsburgh after this year given the team’s history, the Steelers have struggled with the salary cap in recent years and parted ways with franchise stalwarts that weren’t worth re-upping.
The franchise has proven it’s committed to Pouncey.
Obviously there are concerns when you combine the terms “highest paid” and “missed last year.”
Then again, Denver made Peyton Manning the highest paid PLAYER in the NFL after his neck surgery before Baltimore’s Joe Flacco mistake.
That’s worked out just fine (two division titles, one AFC championship, all of the passing records).
Not that Pouncey the center is in the same stratosphere as Manning the quarterback at present, but the start to his career signals that there may be some greatness left.
Offensive lineman’s careers can last decades, and very little of Pouncey’s game is based on pure speed, so as long as his knee is structurally sound, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
He is the key to everything Pittsburgh wants to do on offense.
Sorry Ben Roethlisberger, but it’s true.
Who snaps you the ball?
Roethlisberger may be a championship-proven quarterback, but he can’t accomplish anything without the nearly 1,500 pounds of black and gold bulk in front of him.
And, clearly, they can’t accomplish much without the man in the middle.
So after some restful contemplation, a verdict: this is a good move that locks up a player with a proven track record at an important position, but don’t expect him to return to All-pro form immediately.