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It should be no surprise the Rooneys were going to hire whichever candidate agreed to be cheapest. It's no knock on Mike Tomlin, the Rooneys do have a history of making cheapness the priority in everything they do regarding the Steelers.
All the way back before player salary limits, the Rooneys were the cheapest. After that, this was the only brass who kept Kordell & Mike Tomzack for years because they were cheapest. And I remember the Rooney family had 30 years of sellouts at Three Rivers stadium, yet pocketed the money instead of making any needed improvements to that former stadium's parking etc. Lastly the Rooneys refused to pay market value for Cowher. Cowher is indicated to have wanted market value, which would be Mike Holgram's $8 mil salary, & the Rooneys refused to pay market value. Based on the Rooney's history of cheapness being a priority in every way, is there any wonder the Rooneys might have agreed to now choose whichever candidate agreed to the cheapest salary?
It should be noted Mike Tomlin's price to the Rooneys is only $2.5 million per year. Cowher was reportedly being paid $4 mil. Reports are the Rooneys might have agreed to bump Cowher's pay to around $6.5 mil -still less than Holgram's $8 mil. But the Rooneys even found a way to even pocket some money from a head coach's salary! Because although they'll have to pay this last year of Bill's contract, for then the duration of Tomlin's contract the Rooneys only pay $2.5 mil per year instead of Cowher's current salary.