The Tomlin era has featured two Super Bowl appearances and a sixth Vince Lombardi trophy in the franchise's history. He is a defensive head coach that arrived at a franchise with a storied tradition of defense, and in particular linebackers!
It should come as no surprise then that the two draft picks that Tomlin started his tenure with the Steelers with have become cornerstones of the team's defense. It's also no surprise that both are star linebackers.
LaMarr Woodley is a well known player across the country having been selected to the Pro Bowl and being a second team All-Pro player in 2009. However, he was actually the team's second-round pick in 2007.
The player the Steelers took ahead of him in the first round took a lot longer to make an impact on the field, but was eventually worth the wait. Lawrence Timmons today joined Woodley in signing a contract extension with the team worth $50 million over six seasons.
Timmons isn't being paid as much as Woodley, but he is now the fourth-highest paid player on the roster. Of the three players ahead of him, one, as expected, is starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger but the other two are both linebackers.
The Steelers are obviously a franchise that values their linebackers more than any other team in the league. Woodley's deal was the second-most for a single player in franchise history while James Harrison signed a similar deal to Timmons' a few years ago.
Omar Khan and Kevin Colbert are no fools. They are widely respected throughout the league and while the Philadelphia Eagles and others are throwing huge sums of money at other positions, they understand that the Steelers must take care of their linebackers.
Timmons' deal is essentially the same as Harrison's was, however, Harrison received his after an MVP-caliber season. Timmons may not have received any MVP votes last season, but he had a huge season and overtook James Farrior as the team's best inside linebacker.
That is saying something considering Farrior's play has barely declined as he has aged.
Dick LeBeau coached teams will always rely on their front seven to win them football games. The Steelers system cannot flourish without players like Timmons who can tirelessly chase after the quarterback while also stuffing any potential running game.
Woodley and Timmons have perfectly fit into the scheme and have endless talent and potential. There is a reason that they were the priority over Troy Polamalu as he also enters a contract year.
Youth and durability is on the side of the pair of potent backers. A bright future will likely be the reward for the Steelers' huge investment.