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J.J. Watt Understands Kenny Pickett’s Frustration in Steelers Exit



Steelers J.J. Watt T.J. Watt

Former Houston Texans defensive end and current CBS analyst J.J. Watt loves what the Pittsburgh Steelers have done in free agency, especially the addition of linebacker Patrick Queen. But he also thinks it was a wise move to add quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, specifically the 25-year-old Fields.

“You might have found a guy for the future,” Watt said of Fields in a one-on-one interview with Bryan DeArdo of CBS Sports. I think it’s smart business what they’re doing, especially in a league where it’s tough to find a quarterback and it’s the most important position.”

At the same time, however, Watt does feel for Kenny Pickett. The former Pitt quarterback was upset by the acquisition of Russell Wilson and requested a trade. The Steelers agreed and shipped the disgruntled Pickett to the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles.

“I’m sure he is frustrated,” Watt said of Pickett. “I’m sure he feels like he never got the full proper opportunity to show (his potential) and develop, which is a thing that’s happening in this league. We are not giving guys time to develop, grow and fight through adversity and come out the other side, because it’s such a win-now world that we live in.

“So, I don’t blame him at all for wanting an opportunity to compete somewhere or go somewhere and try something new. When you bring in a guy and say he’s automatically the starter and you don’t even get a chance, I get it. I completely understand his side. But at the same time, I don’t blame the Steelers at all. When an opportunity presents itself like that, a minimum contract for a guy that’s won a Super Bowl, you’ve got to take it.”

Watt’s stance echoes what Pickett’s college coach Pat Narduzzi said. It’s just business. The Steelers did what was best for them, and likewise for Pickett.

“It’s business,” Narduzzi said, via 93.7 The Fan. “It’s business for everybody. It’s business for the Steelers, business for Kenny and business as usual.”

In his introductory press conference with the Philadelphia Eagles, Pickett revealed that he felt like he handled his departure from Pittsburgh the right way.

“I think the communication is what it is. It was behind closed doors. I’m confident with the way I handled it,” Pickett said.

Ultimately, Pickett feels like it was just time for a fresh start after playing seven years in the city of Pittsburgh, accounting for his Pitt tenure. He’ll now get the chance to play for the franchise that he grew up rooting for in Ocean Township, New Jersey.

“I just thought it was time. It just felt like it was time from things that transpired,” Pickett said. “Wanted to get a chance to go somewhere else and continue to grow my career. The fact that it’s in Philly, the place that I found the love for the game. A great coaching staff, great players. Looking forward to meeting these guys in a couple weeks when everyone gets back in town. I think it’s an awesome opportunity to join this team.”