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Saunders: Omar Khan Gives Steelers WRs Dreaded Vote of Confidence

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan gave a vote of confidence to the team’s wide receivers room. But is that a good thing?



Pittsburgh Steelers GM Omar Khan
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan during training camp at St. Vincent College on July 30, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan gave his wide receivers room a significant vote of confidence on Thursday, but judging how that has gone earlier this offseason, they may not be too happy about.

Asked about the team’s depth at wide receiver beyond budding star George Pickens during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan, Khan said that the team’s wide receivers impressed him during OTAs and minicamp and that he feels good about the position entering the summer.

“I was just talking to Coach [Tomlin] and a couple of the other guys in my department here and we were just saying how good we felt about that room,” Khan said. “The growth from when the offseason program started to where we are now, and even the improvements from the start of OTAs to now has just been awesome to see. …

“We like the group. We really, really do. They’re working hard. This was an important OTA and minicamp for us. We’ve got a lot of new faces on offense and just seeing how they gel together, how they work. I can just tell you, it’s trending really positively. It’s awesome.”

Of course, it’s certainly an open question as to whether that praise is a good thing for the receivers in the room, who certainly do not want another receiver to be added.

RELATED: Trade Talk Has Lit Fire Under Steelers WR Room: ‘We Most Definitely Hear It’

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan Salary Cap

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Nov. 19, 2023. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Khan started this offseason by professing his “full faith” in quarterback Kenny Pickett at the 2024 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, also expressing optimism about that process.

“I have full faith in Kenny,” Khan said on Feb. 29. “He’s shown us some good things. Obviously, there were some issues with the offense and I’m excited about the impact that Arthur Smith is going to have on him. 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.”

Ten days later, the Steelers signed Russell Wilson. Six days after that, they traded Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles.

On April 22, Khan spoke in his pre-draft press conference about his level of faith in the team’s internal options at the center position for the second time this offseason.

“We have guys on the roster that have flexibility, Khan said. “We have options there. But there’s some good players at the position (in the draft class). We’ll see where it shakes out.”

Four days later, the used a second-round pick on West Virginia center Zach Frazier.

Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III Zach Azzanni

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Calvin Austin III and coach Zach Azzanni during minicamp on June 11, 2024. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Steelers do have options behind Pickens at the wide receiver position. Van Jefferson, Quez Watkins and Scotty Miller have NFL experience. Calvin Austin III had a very strong spring and does seem poised to take a step forward in 2024. Third-round pick Roman Wilson will certainly be a part of the mix.

But the Steelers have had contact with almost every star wide receiver on the trade market for good reason, and it seems unlikely that if he gets a good chance to upgrade the position, Khan will sit on his hands this time around. 

There’s also evidence — and Khan admitted as much — that he took steps to secure a deal earlier this offseason. Khan restructured the contract of outside linebacker Alex Highsmith right before the 2024 NFL Draft. That move was done so that the Steelers — then in trade talks for Brandon Aiyuk and others — could be sure they’d be able to make a deal if the right one came along.

RELATED: Omar Khan Leaves Door Open to Steelers Acquiring Wide Receiver

So suffice to say, Khan has been looking for an upgrade at wide receiver. And just because he said nice things about the ones he has right now, don’t expect him to stop looking until he’s found one.

“If there’s an opportunity to do something that’s going to improve our team, you guys have gotten to know me and my style the last couple of years,” he said.