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Saunders: Omar Khan Aces First Test as Steelers GM

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Steelers Minkah Fitzpatrick Omar Khan

The first season for new Steelers general manager Omar Khan was set up to make the transition to his new role as painless as possible. The Steelers let outgoing GM Kevin Colbert handle free agency and the draft, and the 2022 club was basically already built by the time Khan took over this summer.

But there was still some difficult work that needed to get done before the Steelers finished their offseason, and that was contract extensions for free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, kicker Chris Boswell and wide receiver Diontae Johnson, all of which entered the offseason on expiring contracts.

On Thursday, Khan finished that job, with Johnson the final member of the trio to get a contract extension this summer. Not only that, but Khan was able to get all three deals easily under the Steelers 2022 salary cap, without even needing to resort to restructuring the contracts of Cam Heyward and/or T.J. Watt.

It’s not totally surprising that Khan, who was the Steelers’ chief contract negotiator and salary cap expert under Colbert, did well with his first test, given his specialties. The Steelers also made Fitzpatrick and Boswell the highest-paid players at their respective positions, a deal players rarely walk away from.

The Johnson negotiation, though was more complicated. Somehow, Khan got the young receiver at a below-market rate, without having to trade a longer term to do so, and while the Steelers did guarantee a good portion of Johnson’s money, it’s hard to imagine them cutting him in the next three years.

Furthermore, it seems that the Steelers made an offer, held tight and let Johnson come to them in negotiations.

“The offer they gave me, they stuck with it,” Johnson said Thursday. “We were able to get a little bit more. But I’m cool with it. I’m happy. I’m ready to play.”

Khan will have more an larger tests down the line as he goes through his first full season and offseason with the team, but for a first test as general manager, it’s hard to give Khan anything other than an A in inking the Steelers vet starters to extensions this summer.

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