"I Don't Look at Them and See Dollar Signs.": Mike Tomlin Isn't Concerned About 'Bargain' Players
PITTSBURGH -- Within the story of an undrafted free agent carrying the Pittsburgh Steelers offense is the details of why Devlin Hodges is playing with nothing to lose. A quarterback out of Samford who didn't make the initial 53-man roster and was close to signing an XFL deal before being brought back to the Steelers.
Now, Duck Hodges is the biggest name in the City of Champions. A 3-0 starter in his first NFL season, Hodges is playing better than anyone, including his coach, had thought he would. Instead of 'not killing' the Steelers, Hodges is carrying their offense.
Playing for nothing goes beyond not having a roster spot, though. Hodges could've lost his role in the NFL at any time, and still can. But the grit he brings to a football field has held him steady as a starting quarterback.
For Mike Tomlin, Duck's status outside of being the Steelers passer means nothing. As an undrafted rookie, Hodges signing bonus was brought into question as one of the league's "biggest bargains." According to Tomlin, he's never thought about Hodge's money but rather why he's where he is.
"He's a capable man, he's sitting in the room, he's having an opportunity to prepare and we view it as such," Tomlin said.
The head coach explained that money, signing bonuses and even contracts have nothing to do with his coaching decisions. Players have never had to worry about not playing as much because they weren't a big-name signing. When it comes to contribution, Tomlin's only worry is keeping this team on top - no matter who's playing.
"I don't care about what means these guys get here. I don't look at them and see dollar signs," Tomlin said. "When I'm making decisions about their contributions, I don't compare one man's ability based on his bonus to another man's ability. And I think that our guys find comfort in that, they embrace that approach. They're not limited in terms of what they can do for us because of dollars and cents."
For an undrafted quarterback from a small school, Hodges is taking full advantage of Tomlin's way of coaching.