The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t overstate what he means to the franchise.
Back on March 7, the Steelers signed center Maurkice Pouncey to a three-year, $29 million deal to keep him in Pittsburgh and blocking for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This move was one of two made on that Thursday in an effort to keep the offense producing at a high level. The Steelers also gave guard Ramon Foster a two-year, $8.25 million deal.
While these two deals were more unheralded considering that the Steelers also brought Mark Barron, Steven Nelson, and Donte Moncrief to town, they were possibly more important to the team’s long-term success. As general manager Kevin Colbert explained during his sit-down with team reporter Missi Matthews, Pouncey’s contract, in particular, was one of the most important moves that had to be made due to what he means to this team.
“Maurkice Pouncey, we think, is the best center in the game,” Colbert said. “Again, we are fortunate to have him in his prime, and he’s also one of our under-the-cover kind of leaders because of how respected he is, not only on the field but off the field. Keeping a Maurkice Pouncey here for, hopefully, the rest of his career was really a pretty easy move for us.”
Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey has been one of the league’s absolute best lineman throughout his career. Outside of his two missed seasons due to injury, Pouncey has been a Pro Bowler in each of his seven healthy NFL seasons. And after missing the entire 2015 season after sustaining a fibula injury during the preseason, Pouncey has not missed a game due to injury over the past three seasons while earning three consecutive Pro Bowl selections over that span.
Pouncey was the only Pittsburgh Steelers’ player to earn All-Pro honors this past season. He was also the only member of the team to be named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-AFC team. This is the second straight year Pouncey has received this honor.
According to Pro Football Focus, Pouncey wasn’t the best center in the league in the 2018 season after only earning a grade of 68.9, but he still helped propel this offensive line to astounding production. Throughout the season, the Steelers line earned the second-highest pass blocking grade in the 2018 season while only allowing 24 sacks of Ben Roethlisberger, which was fourth-best in the league.
Keep in mind that the Steelers ran 726 passing plays in 2018, which was only three shy of the most in the NFL. Despite this abundance of passing plays, Roethlisberger was only under pressure on 24.3 percent of his dropbacks, per PFF. Pouncey was a big part of this efficiency, and the Steelers recognize how critical he was to the team’s success.
Most NFL players talk about wanting to spend their entire career with one team, but Pouncey is a player that will realistically achieve this goal, especially if he continues to perform at such a high level.