Twenty-four hours ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers came to terms on a 5-year $50 million contract extension with David DeCastro. The move not only meant that the Steelers would have one of the best, young guards under contract for the next six seasons but also the end to a journey embarked on many years ago to repair the Steelers offensive line.
The days where the phrase Offensive line could describe the quality of the Steelers lineman are now long over. DeCastro’s extension is just the latest in Steelers offensive line extensions with Marcus Gilbert & Maurkice Pouncey both tied down until 2019 and Ramon Foster freshly signed to a new deal until 2018. For the first time since the Steelers fifth SuperBowl ring, the Steelers have an offensive line capable of both protecting the passer and opening up the run game – something that DeCastro is highly effective at.
Since drafting Maurkice Pouncey in 2010, the Steelers have seen their sack total decrease in every season but one. In both the 2015 and 2014 seasons, the Steelers allowed just 33 sacks, a number not seen since the 2003 season when they allowed just 35 sacks.
Looking at the graph above, the Steelers did allow over 40 sacks in both their 2008 and 2010 SuperBowl seasons but a patchwork offensive line is not a recipe for success proved by playoff misses in 2009,2012 and 2013 plus Wild Card losses in 2007 and 2011. With the Steelers posting fewer sack totals than ever, DeCastro and company are ensuring a more long-term winning consistency. It’s no secret that it is impossible to win football games with your quarterback laying under a 260lb linebacker, which is why the Steelers began to put more emphasis on developing an offensive line.
The plan which began with the drafting of Pouncey a long seven years ago has finally reached its achieved goal with the signing of DeCastro. A move that ensures an up and coming offensive line remains together until the retirement of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, hopefully erasing the quarterback’s PTSD of playing with the likes of Jonathan Scott, Trai Essex and Mike Adams.