The Steelers and right tackle Marcus Gilbert agreed to a new six-year contract Tuesday, giving the team some much-needed stability on the offensive line while ensuring the fourth-year pro would not reach free agency after this season.
Gilbert received a $7.65 million dollar signing bonus on the $30.8 million dollar deal that binds him to the team through 2019.
Gilbert is the second offensive lineman the Steelers have signed to a long-term deal this year. In June, center Maurkice Pouncey signed a $48 million dollar deal that also runs through 2019. All five starting offensive linemen are signed through the 2015 season.
Gilbert, a second-round pick in 2011, started 35 games in his first three NFL seasons. He was the only Steelers lineman to start all 16 last season. Had Gilbert not reached a deal before the season, he likely would have tested free agency after it and his price could have skyrocketed.
Gilbert started 13 games as a rookie and five in his second season before a foot injury landed him on injured reserve. His play was inconsistent his first three seasons, but Gilbert entered training camp in the best shape of his life and easily locked down a starting job ahead of Mike Adams, a second-round pick in 2012.
The Steelers have invested heavily in their offensive line through the draft the past few years. Pouncey was the team’s first-round pick in 2010. Gilbert came in 2011 and right guard David DeCastro was a first-round pick in 2012. The Steelers can exercise an option on DeCastro’s rookie contract next year that will keep him with the team through the 2016 season.
Starting left guard Ramon Foster signed a three-year contract last year. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum’s rookie deal runs through the 2015 season.
Gilbert’s signing likely means Adams does not have a long-term future with the Steelers.
Offensive line coach Mike Munchak said last week Adams was competing with veteran Guy Whimper to become the top backup tackle. Like Beachum, Adams’ rookie contract runs through the 2015 season.
Adams began last season as the team’s starting left tackle, but was replaced by Beachum after four games.
Ray Fittipaldo: email@example.com and Twitter @rayfitt1.