How did Khan fair in his first Steelers season?
While the Steelers had a turbulent first season under Khan, I will not base the results on him alone. He was in charge of this roster after the drafting, meaning almost every player that was on the team was there because of Colbert first. I can’t fault a player's success or failure on Khan because of that.
What I will say is that I think Khan worked the practice squad well. While recent changes have allowed the squad to be filled with more valuable players, it is still at its core a “break glass in case of emergency” option or a developmental unit. Khan seemed to favor the former as much as the latter.
Names like Andrew Adams, Ryan Anderson, Quincy Williams, and Josh Jackson were all added to the practice squad early, and some of those players were forced into action. That said, each of those names had significant NFL experience, which made them a more viable injury replacement.
While I won’t lump the entire 9-8 record onto Khan, I will knock him for the play of his traded-for players. Davis barely played for the Steelers, and while the compensation wasn’t high, the trade certainly doesn’t look great in hindsight. The Reed deal was even worse, as he was forced into action due to injuries and struggled. He was eventually benched, making Colbert’s trades 0-2.
Those weren’t the only trades he made though. As the deadline approached, he traded a conditional pick for William Jackson. Pittsburgh was thin at cornerback, so the trade made sense, as the Steelers loved him when he was a prospect a few seasons ago. Ultimately, Jackson reinjured himself, so the picks were no longer dealt and the move was fruitless.
That didn’t stop Khan from making arguably his biggest move of the year though. Disgruntled and struggling receiver Chase Claypool was traded to the Bears for their second-round pick. It was shocking compensation at the time, and with the Bears losing out the rest of the season, this ultimately turned into the 32nd pick in the draft.
This was really the start of Khan’s main focus on the roster. While it wouldn’t be completely uncovered until the offseason, there was a clear focus on trimming the fat, trading what you had in excess, and adding depth everywhere.