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Ryan Clark Blasts Kenny Pickett’s Exit from Steelers: ‘Lifelong Backup’



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

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett has left the city where he played college football and started his NFL career. And his exit did not go smoothly or over with everyone. Former Steelers safety Ryan Clark noted that he thought he would have a chance to compete in Pittsburgh, but now he might just be a backup.

“From what I hear, Kenny Pickett actually had an opportunity to compete there,” Clark said on the All Things Covered Podcast. “And he didn’t want it. So now he’s going to be a lifelong backup.”

The reaction came all after the  Russell Wilson signing. Pickett preferred to be moved, and 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 Pittsburgh, accounting for his Pitt tenure. He’ll now get to play for the franchise 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 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.