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Merril Hoge Thought Kenny Pickett Was a Competitor



Steelers Kenny Pickett

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and team scout Merril Hoge was fooled by the persona of Kenny Pickett. He thought Pickett was a competitor, but that doesn’t appear to be the case after he backed down from a training camp battle with Russell Wilson.

“When you look at the quarterback situation, I really like Kenny Pickett. I was disappointed he didn’t want to compete. That one surprised me,” Hoge said during an appearance on Mic Drop Sports podcast this past week.

Pickett was labeled as this ultimate competitor and team-first guy, but that obviously wasn’t the case. First came the reports that he refused to dress as the team’s third quarterback in Seattle last season. Pickett still denies it.

And then came the Russell Wilson signing. That’s when things came to screeching halt. Pickett complained about the move and requested a trade. The Steelers agreed and shipped the disgruntled Pickett to the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles.

In his introductory press conference with the Eagles, Pickett revealed what happened in his departure from Pittsburgh, and he feels like he handled the situation 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.”

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin didn’t give judgment on Pickett’s decision and said he wished him well moving forward. He indicated that the Steelers felt confident they’d be able to land Justin Fields before they pulled the trigger on the trade that sent Pickett and two draft picks to Philadelphia for the No. 98th pick this year and two 2025 seventh-round picks.

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussed Pickett and what he would be asked to do with the team, which is purely a backup role.

“I’m really excited about the things he can do. I’m excited that we have a piece in place there. But his job is to be the backup, and his job is to support Jalen and help him in any way that he can and be ready to play if he needs to play,” Sirianni said.

Pickett would’ve at least had a chance to compete against Wilson in Pittsburgh. He has no chance to supplant Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. The belief that he was betrayed by the Steelers front office just didn’t sit well with him, and he didn’t see their relationship being repaired.