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Steelers Analysis

Steelers’ Kenny Pickett Endorsement is No Ruse

The Pittsburgh Steelers have belief in Kenny Pickett to become their next franchise quarterback in Year 3.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett warms up before his team's playoff game agains the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 15, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

INDIANAPOLIS — The Pittsburgh Steelers brass, Mike Tomlin, Art Rooney II, and Omar Khan, all stoically said they believed in Kenny Pickett in some manner during their three separate press availabilities throughout the offseason. It was common ping, and while there is some drivel and room to make a move in there, not much differed from their messaging and more importantly, their actions, this offseason.

I do believe that Pickett will be getting another chance to be the team’s starting quarterback.

The Steelers took a hard look at their offensive failures during the 2023 season, and they came to the conclusion that it was offensive coordinator Matt Canada, not Pickett, that was the bigger problem.

They said that with their actions by firing Canada, an unprecedented step for the franchise. Khan also said that literally in Indy.

“Obviously, there were some issues with the offense and I’m excited about the impact that Arthur Smith is going to have on him,” Khan said. “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.”

Pickett got one full game without Canada, and it was one of his best ones, engineering a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Pickett’s ceiling is probably not the same as some of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s likely never going to be a Patrick Mahomes or a Josh Allen.

The Steelers knew that when they drafted him. They believe they can build a quality team on defense and with a running game and by scheming their way to success to compete without necessarily having the best of the best at quarterback.

It doesn’t take a lot to justify that stance. Look at the seasons that the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions had with Brock Purdy and Jared Goff at the helm. Mason Rudolph showed in 2023 what the Steelers can be when they get above-average quarterback play. That was always the idea with Pickett, and it’s reasonable to think that he could still provide that level of play with better coaching and a more sensical and more productive offense around him.

But the Pittsburgh Steelers are telling you what they think of Kenny Pickett with the hire of Smith. A coach who puts up as many guard rails as possible in his offense for his quarterback, the team acknowledges Pickett’s limitations while trying to support an environment around him that can foster his growth and development. He might not be able to magically make Pickett the next big thing in the NFL, but can he take Pickett into the next tier that allows him to at least pop as a Top-20 quarterback? That might be the goal for the Steelers this upcoming season.