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Steelers Thought Signing Russell Wilson Would Have Benefited Kenny Pickett



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Kenny Pickett was the Pittsburgh Steelers only quarterback on the roster prior to free agency, so the Steelers had to make additions. But the Russell Wilson signing was not what Pickett expected. He probably would have been fine with a Ryan Tannehill signing, but he didn’t like the fact that Mike Tomlin told him that Wilson would be in pole position to be the starter.

Pickett was irritated by the Steelers supposedly not keeping their word that he would be the clear-cut starter, and he requested a trade. The Steelers obliged and sent him to Philadelphia. That’s when the floodgates for Justin Fields opened up for Pittsburgh.

However, Brook Pryor of ESPN claims that the Steelers never assured Wilson that he would start before he signed, and he never asked for any, either.

“Wilson didn’t ask for assurances about a starting job, according to a source familiar with the conversations, and the Steelers didn’t give any.

“He’s competed all of his life,” the source said. “He’s not afraid of it,” Pryor wrote.

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.”

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.

At the NFL owner’s meetings, 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 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.

Even though things didn’t workout for Pickett in Pittsburgh. Steelers general manager Omar Khan still believes he has a promising future.

“Nothing has changed. I still have a lot of faith in Kenny Pickett,” Khan said at the NFL owner’s meetings. “Kenny’s a good football player, a good quarterback. I think he’s got a big future in the NFL. Things just kind of evolved. I couldn’t really have foreseen that things would go the way they did.”