Steelers have franchise-altering decision to make at general manager

General manager Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
General manager Kevin Colbert of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Kevin Colbert officially announced that he will be stepping down following the 2022 NFL Draft. Here’s why the Steelers have such an important decision on their hands.

The general manager of an NFL team isn’t as glamourous as the franchise quarterback or in the spotlight as much as the head coach. However, that doesn’t mean that they are nowhere near as important. For some teams, in fact, you could argue the opposite.

Kevin Colbert has been fantastic for the Pittsburgh Steelers over the past two decades. After a lengthy Super Bowl drought in the 80s and 90s, Colbert laid the groundwork for one of the most successful football teams of the 2000s and was responsible for drafting players like Troy Polamalu, Ben Roethlisberger, Cameron Heyward, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Casey Hampton, Antonio Brown, and Heath Miller.

Colbert played as big of a role as nearly anyone in the NFL over the past twenty years and his value cannot be understated. Sadly, his journey with the team will be coming to an end. The long-time general manager of the Steelers officially announced that he will be stepping down following the 2022 NFL Draft.

Steelers face franchise-altering decision

With Colbert’s departure comes a massive, franchise-altering decision: who will be the next GM in Pittsburgh? Though this might seem dramatic, we have witnessed first-hand the effect a great general manager can have on a team. Other rivals have not been so lucky.

On January 28th, team owner Art Rooney II addressed the media regarding Colbert’s decision to step down and the pending vacancy at GM. Here’s what Rooney had to say, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor:

"“We have left the door open, Kevin [Colbert] and I, to possibly have him fill an ongoing role after the draft. We will be conducting a search for a new GM starting immediately. Probably won’t make a hire until after the draft. We will be interviewing people. We’ve already interviewed two of our in-house candidates: Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt.”"

I’ve speculated for months that Brandon Hunt and Omar Khan would be first in line to interview for Colbert’s job. However, the Steelers have been burnt by in-house hires before, and they can’t afford to have that happen with a position as important as general manager.

Hunt is the Pro Scouting Coordinator for the Steelers. He has been with the team for 14 years and his experience in the war room with Colbert could give him an edge for the GM job. Meanwhile, Khan is the team’s vice president of football operations, and he handles more of the business side of things — primarily dealing with the salary cap. Though the Steelers could go with Hunt due to his experience working with Colbert in the draft process, Khan has been with the team for 21 years.

Art Rooney II also left the door open to hiring outside of the organization. However, doing so would be a very un-Steelers-like move, as the team — under the ownership of the Rooney’s — has almost always hired from within for these front-office positions.

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While the offseason buzz will surround Pittsburgh’s quarterback situation in 2022, hiring the right GM for the job is equally as important. Let’s hope that whoever is hired to replace Kevin Colbert proves to be the right man for the job.