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Recapping A Weird Week In Steelers History

Well, how are we feeling, Steelers Nation? What a weird week it was for the organization as the reign of General Manager Omar Khan marched on unfazed. The front office headed by Khan and Assistant GM Andy Weidl has made it very clear in the past week, that it’s a new era of Steelers football. Pittsburgh has finally joined the 21st century. What a time to be alive. 


Familiar Faces Leaving Town 


Once the Steelers signed Russell Wilson, it felt like Kenny Pickett’s days were all but numbered. Some believed he had a chance in a quarterback competition with Wilson and he may have had a shot but from some reports by credible Steelers sources, Pickett preferred to move on from the situation. 


After spending just two seasons with the Steelers, the 20th overall pick from the 2022 NFL Draft is officially gone from Pittsburgh, headed for the West side of Pennsylvania to join his childhood team the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade that brings the Steelers the 98th pick in this year’s draft and two seventh rounders in 2025. Pittsburgh also sent the 120th pick as part of the package. 



No matter how you package it up, it appears the Kenny Pickett era in Pittsburgh was officially a disaster. Who is to blame you ask? Everybody. From the top down, the development of Pickett was botched, and he didn’t help himself much with his play on the field by any means. He was somewhere between mediocre and average and the situation around him didn’t help. Holding on to former Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada for way too long could go down as one of the worst decisions in franchise history. 


The former Pitt Panther finished up his two years with the Steelers appearing in 25 games with a 62.6% completion rate while gathering 4,474 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 179 yards per game, four rushing touchdowns, and seven game-winning drives. 


Pickett wasn’t the only polarizing Steelers to leave town in the past week, as the Steelers sent Diontae Johnson and a seventh-round pick to the Panthers in exchange for six-year NFL veteran Cornerback Donte Jackson. A good trade for both sides. The Steelers get a much-needed corner to pair with Joey Porter Jr and the Panthers get a weapon for Bryce Young



Media has also been speculating that Johnson wanted to be traded, but who knows? Johnson spent five seasons as a Steeler, coming in as one of the draft picks Pittsburgh landed when they sent Antonio Brown to the Raiders in 2019. In his five seasons in Pittsburgh, Johnson was targeted 639 times and caught 391 passes for 4,363 yards and 25 touchdowns. Johnson averaged 5.1 receptions per game, 56.7 yards per game, and 11.2 yards per catch. 


The former Toledo wideout made the All-Pro team in his rookie year and a Pro Bowl in 2021. He may have only gone over 1,000 yards once as a Steeler, but he was always flirting with four digits despite some pretty poor quarterback play in his whole Steelers tenure. 


New Faces Steelers Nation Will Love 


Along with the surprising additions of Russell Wilson and Patrick Queen, Khan has been putting together other deals to fill out the roster. Donte Jackson, who came over in the Diontae Johnson trade could be a big player for the Steelers this year if he stays healthy. The 28-year-old has played all six of his NFL seasons for the Panthers, gathering 14 interceptions with one pick-six, 46 passes defended, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, one sack, and 243 solo tackles with 15 tackles for loss. He also appeared in 91% of the Panthers defensive snaps, which is good news for the Steelers. 



Another addition on the defensive side of the ball came in free agency when the Steelers signed former Ravens, Lions, and Dolphins safety DeShon Elliott who will be 27 next season and should fit well next to Minkah Fitzpatrick. You might remember him as the guy who shattered Patrick Mahomes helmet last season. Last season, Elliott started all 15 games he appeared in for the Dolphins, finishing the year with one interception, seven passes defended, one fumble recovery, 82 total tackles, 53 solo tackles, and one tackle for loss. 



On the flip side, the Steelers also made a move on offense before the week was out. They signed former Rams and Falcons Wide Receiver Van Jefferson to a one-year deal. Some help in the receiver room for George Pickens. While this might not be as sexy of a signing as the others, it was a necessary one. The Steelers only had two Wide Receivers on the roster George Pickens and Calvin Austin III before the signing.


Now they’ll likely look for one in the draft as well as potentially another free agent. Jefferson is a five-year NFL Veteran, winning the Super Bowl with the Rams in 2021. Last season he caught 20 passes for 209 yards in his time between Los Angeles and Atlanta. 


The Steelers also retained Long Snapper Christian Kuntz, Special Teamer Miles Killebrew, and Defensive Tackle Monty Adams. All good guys for the Steelers to keep, especially at the price tags they got them for. Now it’s up to Khan, Weidl, and Mike Tomlin to fill out the rest of this roster with free agents and draft picks. It should be a fun road leading up to Training Camp in August at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. It’s a new day, Steelers fans.


Total, these courses were a 20-hour commitment which started in August 2023 and ended in December 2023.



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