The Pittsburgh Steelers and former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey came to terms Thursday on a five-year, $44 million contract extension that includes $13 million in fully guaranteed money, making Pouncey the highest-paid center in the NFL.
ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio first reported Pouncey’s signing, noting that the five-year extension locks him up with the Steelers for six years at a maximum earning potential of $48 million.
Pouncey will make $14 million in 2014, adding a large portion of the signing bonus to the $3.8 million he was set to earn in the final year of his already-existing deal. He’ll also pocket nearly $27 million through March 2017.
The No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey earned a Pro Bowl nod and was named an All-Pro from 2010-12, making him the first center in NFL history to receive either honor in each of the first three seasons.
However, injuries kept Pouncey out of action in portions of those three seasons, and he missed the entire 2013 season just a couple snaps into Pittsburgh’s first game when he tore both the ACL and MCL in his right knee.
He started all 16 regular-season games and two playoff contests as a rookie in 2010 but was unable to play in Super Bowl XLV after suffering a high-ankle sprain and fracturing his ankle in the AFC Championship.
The injury bug hit Pouncey again in 2011 as he once again started 16 regular-season games before a high-ankle sprain to the same ankle forced him to be sidelined for the Steelers’ AFC Wild Card game against Denver.
Pouncey only sat out one contest in 2012 – a Week 7 game while recovering from a knee injury suffered the week prior – but the Steelers did not make the playoffs that year.
Nevertheless, Pittsburgh felt comfortable enough in Pouncey long-term that the team has decided to pay him an average salary of $8.8 million in new money – making him the highest-paid center in the league – or $8 million per season should he stay with the team six years and never restructure his deal.
His brother, Mike Pouncey, recently saw his fifth-year option picked up by the Miami Dolphins. Mike Pouncey will earn $2.9 million this season before seeing his salary balloon to 7.4 million in 2015. Both Mike Pouncey and the Dolphins are interested in working out a long-term extension; when signed, it will likely surpass his brother’s deal.
Maurkice Pouncey is the second former Gators player to become the highest-paid at his position this offseason as Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden signed a five-year, $68 million contract extension on May 13.
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