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Former NFL Scout Says Steelers Front Office Has Red Flags

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Steelers GM Omar Khan Trade Deadline Salary Cap

Colin Cowherd of FS1 has made it well-known that he isn’t a fan of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett. In fact, he thinks Pickett could be the 15th-best quarterback in the AFC, and the Steelers would be the 20th-best team in the NFL if he’s the starter again.

Former NFL scout John Middlekauff was a guest on Cowherd’s podcast Monday, and he agreed that Pickett isn’t the answer. He thinks Russell Wilson landing with the Steelers makes sense, especially since he most likely will sign a veteran minimum deal. The Broncos owe Wilson $39 million upon release, but that figure would be reduced depending on Wilson’s next contract.

“With the Broncos paying almost $40 million, you can get him for a million dollars, so he’s relatively cheap,” Middlekauff said. “But the moment you sign that, Russell’s not competing for a job, right? He’s better than Kenny Pickett. If that truly happens and they’re not interesting in these other guys or not actively drafting a quarterback … that’s insane.”

Middlekauff then dropped a bomb on the structure of the Steelers’ organization. Claiming that there’s some “red flags operationally.” He said it has more to do with the transition from Kevin Colbert to Omar Khan at general manger than Mike Tomlin’s ability as a head coach.

“I do think this transition, and their new front office, I don’t think they’re quite viewed as the same powerhouse,” Middlekauff¬† said. “… I think the Steelers, they got a lot going on when it comes to the transition in the front office. Which is natural. Most teams don’t go smooth from GM to GM or coach to coach. And I just think they’re an organization to kind of keep an eye on. I wonder how long can you keep this up?”

“A lot of people in the NFL, kind of have them red-flagged operationally, I would say. Not necessarily Tomlin, just the new GM (Omar Khan), just the new thoughts from the front office.”

Khan has conducted only one draft and it was widely considered one of the best in the league. Offensive tackle Broderick Jones, cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and nose tackle Keeanu Benton were all starters in their rookie seasons. Nick Herbig also showed promise as the No. 3 outside linebacker. The organization is also embracing analytics more under Khan compared to Colbert, who had an old-school scout background.

The transition from Colbert to Khan really isn’t the issue, it has more to do with nailing the quarterback position down. Pickett was Colbert’s selection, too. The Steelers haven’t won a playoff game in seven years, so Middlekauff is right that they’re not viewed as a powerhouse like they once were. If Khan can figure out the quarterback position, that could change quickly as the rest of their roster is pretty talented outside of a few areas.