The Steelers signed center Maurkice Pouncey to an extension last week that will pay him an average of $8 million per season. The next Steelers offensive lineman likely to cash in on a big contract is right tackle Marcus Gilbert, though it's unclear at this point if the Steelers will be the team signing his checks beyond the 2014 season.

Gilbert, who has started 35 games over his first three seasons in the league, is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Gilbert said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has approached the Steelers about a long-term deal. A source indicated those discussions are preliminary in nature.

The Steelers have some salary-cap space to execute new contracts before the season, but Gilbert has to get in line. Cornerback Cortez Allen, also a member of the 2011 draft class, is in the final year of his rookie contract. Ben Roethlisberger and Jason Worilds are candidates for extensions, though negotiations with Worilds are stalled at the moment.

Gilbert is scheduled to make $815,000 this season, and he can expect to at least quadruple his salary in his next contract. The market was set for Gilbert earlier this year when the top available free-agent right tackles secured deals worth between $4 million and $6 million per season.

The best free-agent deal for a right tackle belonged to Austin Howard, who signed a five-year, $30 million deal with the Raiders. Michael Oher was next with a four-year, $20 million deal with the Titans and Breno Giacomini followed with a four-year, $18 million contract with the Jets.

Of that trio, only Giacomini had a better overall grade than Gilbert in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus. Giacomini was the 41st-ranked tackle in the league. Gilbert was No. 44, followed by Howard at No. 47 and Oher at No. 68.