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Steelers architect Colbert signs five-year contract extension

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert signed a five-year contract extension Wednesday, less than one week after the team re-signed coach Mike Tomlin through the 2012 season.

Colbert, who has served as the Steelers' general manager but without the title since 2000, oversaw the teams that won the Super Bowl during the 2005 and 2008 seasons. His contract was due to expire next spring.

The Steelers' first-round draft picks during Colbert's tenure include safety Troy Polamalu, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, nose tackle Casey Hampton, running back Rashard Mendenhall and tight end Heath Miller.

"We are very pleased to announce that Kevin Colbert will remain with the Steelers for at least several more years," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement released by the team. "Kevin is without question one of the best in the NFL at his job."

The extension ends speculation that Colbert might leave the Steelers after the 2010 season to rejoin Bill Cowher, who was Pittsburgh's coach from 1992 to 2006. Cowher is believed to have wanted Colbert, his close friend, to be the general manager if he returned to coaching in the NFL.

The Steelers face a challenging season after missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2009. Roethlisberger has been suspended for at least four games, former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes was traded to the New York Jets following a series of off-the-field issues, and right tackle Willie Colon was lost for the season with an Achilles' injury last month. Also, a defense that was the NFL's best overall the last five seasons is aging, with seven projected starters in their 30s.

"Our expectations are always the same -- we're going to try to compete for the Super Bowl," Colbert said. "That's all we can expect."

Colbert, who grew up in Pittsburgh, was the Detroit Lions' pro scouting director from 1990 to 1999. He also was a college scout for the Miami Dolphins and was the baseball coach at Ohio Wesleyan University and Robert Morris University.

The Steelers open training camp Friday at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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