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Omar Khan is a Diversion From Norm for NFL GMs, But a Strong Hire



Steelers GM Omar Khan

It’s not every day in the NFL that a cap salary specialist becomes an NFL General Manager, but do not tell that to Omar Khan. Reported to likely be the next Steelers general manager, Khan is not from the traditional background of a general manager.

Coming from a salary cap management background, Khan is one of the first general managers to come from this route. However, given just how good Khan has been had mixing and matching numbers for the Steelers over the years, it has been masterful to watch what Khan has done with the salary cap. In order to understand Khan’s worth, just look at how the Steelers have routinely played up against the salary cap as yet have never been burnt by bad contracts. That’s a testament to Khan.

While the Steelers paid their stars in the mid-2010s, they always spun around their salary cap issues to sign one big free agent to help the team. With an aging Ben Roethlisberger, Khan opened up the books to a new rule for the Steelers organization in void deals. The Steelers tried as much as possible to concoct a team that Roethlisberger could do something with. They signed free agents, extended new contracts, and knocked Roethlisberger’ cap hit down considerably. It all parlayed itself into two playoff appearances. If Khan is there at the helm, there is certainly no guarantee everything falls into place for the Steelers.

Taking a look at some of the contracts handed out by Khan in the past illustrate just how good he is at his job. For example, Khan understands how to not overplay his hand in a contract. Chuks Okorafor’s 3-year, $29.25 million deal is essentially a one-year deal with an out after one. Khan structures these deals so the Steelers are not tied up with a bunch of bad cap space and can move pieces around as they wish. The annual ‘restructure season’ for the Steelers has become a prominent one. They do a great job of keeping flexibility within their cap situation to make room in the event that something opens up for them. So, if a player they like hits the streets tomorrow; they can make the call and get something done.

Is there something awry here, though? The Steelers have just hired a general manager with no prior scouting background. That is not to say that Khan does not understand football and the game in-depth. However, it certainly does mean that he is against the grain in the NFL. Without a strong scouting background to fall back upon, Khan will need to surround himself with great minds.

Well, in comes Andy Weidl in that case. Coming from the Eagles organization, Weidl is likely to become the Steelers’ assistant general manager and oversee the scouting department as a whole. He balances out the lack of experience of Khan with a lineage of strong offensive line drafting and a pedigree for building championship rosters. If Brandon Hunt sticks around; too, then Pittsburgh will have two strong scouting heads to work with Khan. It will all be about off laying that lack of scouting prowess.

There is not a lot known about how Khan will operate. There could be anything from a large staff shakeup to more analytics being added into the fold, or simply a continuation of the way that Kevin Colbert did things. Khan’s process of scouting, his approach to free agency, and how he attacks roster building, however, will be fascinating to watch.

Once his core principles are revealed, that is where the strategy from Khan to Weidl and down to others will construct itself. Khan and Weidl is a strong start to a front office. The Steelers are starting off on the right foot, and if they reinforce what Khan needs help with at-large, the move could be a home run.

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