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Proud Pitt Man Says it’s a Shame Kenny Pickett Did Not Want to Compete



Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Former Pitt safety and current ESPN analyst Louis Riddick thought quarterback Kenny Pickett would give Russell Wilson a run for his money in a training camp battle, but that never came to fruition with Pickett requesting a trade as he felt betrayed by the organization with the Wilson acquisition. That request was obliged by the Pittsburgh Steelers front office and Pickett was traded to the cross-state Philadelphia Eagles.

“I would’ve liked to have seen (Kenny Pickett) stay there and compete,” Riddick said during a recent appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “But you know how players get. You know how we get when we feel as though we earned the benefit of the doubt. I think we all know Kenny probably wasn’t structurally given the best chance to succeed. We know that. And when they did make a change (at offensive coordinator with firing Matt Canada) and Pittsburgh went and played in Cincinnati with different people in his ear, he seemed to be someone who looked much more comfortable, played with a lot more confidence. Then he gets injured, and he’s not able to capitalize and continue to build on that.”

Things didn’t go smooth for Pickett on many levels during his two seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback. The most glaring problem was his inability to put the ball into the end zone. His 13 passing touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 25 career games is the lowest touchdown percentage in NFL history (1.8%, minimum 500 pass attempts).

There is a major caveat to Pickett’s struggles, however. He was dealt an extremely bad hand with having Matt Canada as his offensive coordinator. Mike Tomlin’s decision to not only hire Canada to be the team’s offensive coordinator, but to bring him back after the 2022 season was a massive mistake.

The Steelers fired Canada after a Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns. But the damage was already done.

According to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, “multiple sources within the Steelers organization acknowledged” that Pickett “was placed in poor situations during his two years in Pittsburgh, and wasn’t given the adequate support required for a young quarterback.”

Pryor also stated that the Steelers thought learning from a nine-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion would have benefited Pickett in his development, along with adding extra motivation for the young quarterback.

“One team source said that adding Wilson ‘would have been a benefit to Kenny,’ and the pursuit of Wilson would ‘kick Kenny into gear’ and reignite the competitive fire that had made him so attractive to Pittsburgh in the draft evaluation process. Instead, it did the opposite.”

“I think there’s no question he could have stayed to benefit from all of that continuous buildout and improvement. And it’s a shame he’s now not here to be able to take advantage of it. Now, Kenny sounds like he didn’t really like the situation from his perspective,” Riddick said in regards to Pickett feeling like he was slighted by the front office with putting Wilson in pole position to be the starter.

Pickett revealed in his introductory press conference with the Eagles 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.

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 has no chance to supplant Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. But he will have a fresh start for his career, and that is ultimately what he felt he needed after his tenure in Pittsburgh went.