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Steelers GM Earns ‘Khan Artist’ Nickname with Free-Dealing Ways



Steelers Omar Khan Mike Tomlin

You’ve seen the memes. You’ve heard the nicknames. Heck, Mike Tomlin has heard the nicknames. Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan has only been on the job less than a year, but he’s already getting a reputation as a shrewd broker around the NFL landscape.

“What did they call him, the Khan artist?” Tomlin said at the team’s post-draft press conference. “That’s pretty good. That’s a cool nickname.”

Former Steelers linebacker Vince Williams made a play on Khan’s first name, comparing him in a video to Omar Little, a notorious villain from the HBO drama The Wire.

Khan sure does like to make deals. In the 2023 NFL Draft, the Steelers had seven regular selections as annually distributed by the NFL. The team made trades with six of them, with just one of those six trades handled by Khan’s predecessor, Kevin Colbert.

Just one of the team’s seven selections — No. 49 pick Keeanu Benton — was taken at the spot the Steelers initially held in the draft.

That’s a dramatic shift from even the latter days of Colbert’s tenure, when he did start to become more willing to wheel and deal in draft picks.

In Colbert’s final five seasons, he made 15 trades involving at least one draft pick, for an average of three per year. Khan doubled that by making six swaps in 2023.


• Pick No. 17 (CB Christian Gonzalez) and pick No. 120 (Carter Warren) to the New England Patriots for pick No. 14 (OT Broderick Jones, Georgia).
• Chase Claypool to the Chicago Bears for Pick No. 32 (CB Joey Porter Jr.).
• Pick No. 80 (OLB D.J. Johnson) to the Carolina Panthers for pick No. 93 (TE Darnell Washington) and pick No. 132 (LB Nick Herbig).
• Pick No. 151 (DE Mike Morris) to the Seattle Seahawks for CB Ahekllo Witherspoon†
• Pick No. 195 (WR A.T. Perry) to the Denver Broncos for OLB Malik Reed and Pick No. 241 (CB Cory Trice).
• Pick No. 234 (S Jason Taylor II) to the Los Angeles Rams for WR Allen Robinson II and Pick No. 251 (OL Spencer Anderson).
† Trade made by Kevin Colbert before his retirement.

Once upon a time, the Steelers almost never traded their draft picks. The team had no more than two picks change hands in a season and made just nine total trades involving drafts picks from 2008-15.
That began to change later in Colbert’s career. He traded up in the first round for the first time since 2003 (when he did it to get Troy Polamalu) for Devin Bush in 2019. Later that season, he traded the team’s first-round pick away for a player for the first time since the 1960s, moving what became pick No. 18 in the 2020 draft for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

But that changing tide became a flood in 2023, with Khan replacing Colbert and swapping six of the team’s original seven picks.

Is Khan really that much more aggressive when it comes to his approach to roster construction than Colbert?

“I don’t know if I’d call myself aggressive,” Khan said after swinging his trade up for Jones in the first round.

“He’s aggressive,” Tomlin countered.

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