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Kenny Pickett Felt Misled by Steelers, Which Led to Trade



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

The Pittsburgh Steelers thought they got the heir apparent to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger when they drafted Kenny Pickett at 20th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft, but it ended up being a tumultuous two-year tenure for the former Pitt quarterback, who’s now on his way to Philadelphia after being traded on Friday.

The move came out of nowhere. So where did things go sideways? Pickett was irked by the fact that the Steelers indicated Russell Wilson would be the starter, which led to the trade, according to multiple reports.

Aditi Kinkwabwala of CBS Sports said Pickett was explicitly told by the Steelers that Wilson would start, reneging on the pledge he’d been given that after two years of chaos, he’d finally be put in position to succeed.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network also said, “Mike Tomlin had promised Kenny Pickett he’d get a chance to compete. Pickett learned about the Russell Wilson signing on social media Sunday night. When they spoke the next morning, Tomlin told Pickett that Wilson was in pole position and would get the first reps. So, Pickett asked for a trade.” Pickett liked Pelissero’s post on X, confirming that’s how things went down.

Earlier this offseason, Steelers general manager Omar Khan acknowledged that it was tougher to evaluate Pickett simply because of what they had put around him.

“It’s different, you know. There’s a lot of factors to it. Not only the player but the situation. Obviously, there’s been some issues with the offense the last couple years, and we’re excited about where we are with Arthur — Arthur Smith. There’s several factors, and it’s hard to pinpoint one thing,” Khan said.

In his two seasons with the Steelers, Pickett finished with 13 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while throwing for 4470 yards. While he was entrenched as a starter for most of last year, he did not get his starting role back once Mason Rudolph caught fire down the stretch. Then, when they signed Wilson, it all put the onus back on the Steelers simply not believing enough in Pickett, even if they wanted to say they had full faith in him.

I have full faith in Kenny,” Khan said while speaking to the Pittsburgh media at the NFL Combine. “He’s shown us some good things. Obviously, there were some issues with the offense and I’m excited about the impact that Arthur Smith is going to have on him. Arthur is very optimistic about Kenny. I know they’ve communicated. We’ll have some strong competition there and we’ll see how it goes.”