Teresa Varley reported the news for Steelers.com, documenting what Gilbert had to say about the massive new deal:
It means I am locked in hopefully as a Steeler for the rest of my career. It’s a blessing to work for a great organization, the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert and Coach (Mike) Tomlin. Just to be around in Pittsburgh, where they show you so much love, I couldn’t be happier and in a better place. […]
I’ve seen the growth on the offensive line, the guys I came in with. The line is growing and we can become something special. That was one of my main focal points. To give everything I have to this organization means so much to me.
ESPN insider Adam Schefter outlined the financial details of Gilbert's extension:
Steelers giving OT Marcus Gilbert a 5-year, $30 million extension.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2014
General manager Kevin Colbert is certainly making it a priority to secure his big men in the offensive trenches this offseason. This adds to the five-year, $44 million extension center Maurkice Pouncey secured in June.
Football Outsiders' Cian Fahey isn't quite sold on the Pittsburgh offensive line, which has been scrutinized in recent years:
Marcus Gilbert proving that being the best of a bad bunch can be a profitable venture.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) August 19, 2014
The Steelers have failed to qualify for the playoffs in the past two seasons, posting 8-8 records each time. Suspect blocking has been one of the culprits, as franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been susceptible to massive hits and the rushing attack hasn't been as physical and productive.
Le'Veon Bell was chosen in the second round of the 2013 draft to provide Pittsburgh with an all-purpose featured back to carry the load. An uneven rookie campaign was also attributable to lackluster play up front.
How do you feel about Marcus Gilbert's extension?
Roethlisberger still needs someone reliable to cover his blind side. At least he can count on Pouncey to direct traffic up front, while Gilbert can continue to serve as a mauler and physical presence on the right side.
David DeCastro was a first-round pick in 2012 and should be a rock at left guard for years to come. With just about the best coaching available in Munchak, Pittsburgh should have far better protection for Roethlisberger and reestablish its hard-nosed identity on the ground to match its tenacious defense.