Steelers may rue the day Kenny Pickett was traded to the Eagles

The Steelers traded Kenny Pickett after two seasons for an aging Russel Wilson. Will that move spell doom or delight?

Dec 3, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8)
Dec 3, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) / Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has settled and it's all over but the shouting, as it were, let's discuss what can be described as the shocking news that the Steelers have traded Kenny Pickett to their cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles.

Frankly, I don't know what to make of this trade. Various reports are floating around that Pickett was unhappy with how we handled the signing of Russell Wilson while other reports suggest that Pickett refused to dress as the backup to Mason Rudolph toward the tail end of the 2023 season.

Honestly, I don't know what the truth is, but I do know that there are three versions of the truth: your side, my side, and the truth itself. The circumstances surrounding this trade can be viewed in that light, meaning there is the Steelers' side, there is Pickett's side and then there's the truth.

Steelers may regret swapping Kenny Pickett for an aging Russell Wilson

I think that sums up my fear concerning this trade. Pickett will be twenty-six years old when the 2024 season commences. Conversely, Wilson will be thirty-five years old when the 2024 season commences. Not that age is the only factor making this trade hard to reconcile, but, for me, the age difference is one factor that cannot be ignored.

On the flip side, there is no argument, at least for me, that Wilson has had a substantially better career than Pickett, but considering Wilson has started one-hundred and eighty-eight games over a twelve-year career and Pickett has started twenty-four games over two years, that comparison maybe should not even be made.

The single biggest factor for me is this: when the Steelers selected Pickett in the first round of the 2022 draft, we had a veteran QB who was dubbed the starter only to have that QB amass a record of two wins and three losses. In stepped Pickett who won seven games as the starter and helped us achieve a winning record that season.

Some would argue that Pickett's statistics over the past two seasons were underwhelming so much so that the Steelers may have lost faith in him. I can be objective here and say that while Pickett did not have a statistically stellar two seasons in Pittsburgh, throwing for as many TDs as INTs, he was playing in a system guided by probably the worst offensive coordinator in Steelers' history.

We all know to whom I am referring.

There's no need to speak ill of any former coach but with the hiring of Arthur Smith and the declaration by both Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan that the organization had full faith in Pickett, I was very hopeful that Pickett would flourish in a system guided by an established offensive coordinator.

Alas, that was not meant to be. Granted, we did tell Pickett that there would be competition, but I honestly don't believe anyone, including Pickett, would have believed that competition was a nine-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl-winning QB.

Once Wilson was released and we signed him, I believe Pickett saw the writing on the wall and realized that his best chance to revive his career and the best chance to go to an organization that would not essentially lie to him about being in a competitive situation (looking at this from his perspective) was to be traded.

I think the obvious question here is this: what are the best and the worst-case scenarios for the 2024 season? I think the best-case scenario is that Wilson plays weel enough to get us into the playoffs and win at least one game, but that may also be the worst-case scenario.

Here's what I mean by that. Since Wilson is on a very team-friendly one-year contract, if he 'lights it up' and leads us to a playoff win, what do you do with him in 2025? Do we re-sign a then thirty-six-year-old QB to a multi-year contract at the going rate for a starting QB? Do we let him walk in free agency and hope that any of the other QBs we have on the roster by that point will be able to assume the starting role? What's the long-term plan here?

I have been a fan since the 1970s and I have seen every QB play from Terry Bradshaw to the present. While it remains to be seen how Wilson will ultimately play, I think it's fair to say that Pickett was in no way, shape, or form the worst QB I have seen. I would go so far as to say Pickett had an opportunity to be in the conversation as one of the top three to five QBs in Steelers history.

Wilson has a winning record as a starting QB and has accumulated many accolades along the way. I really hope for our sake that Wilson can recapture the 'magic' he had while a member of the Seattle Seahawks, but you have to ask yourself why any organization would be willing to outright cut a former Super Bowl-winning QB and absorb a tremendous cap hit as a result.

Look, I have always said that I am a Tomlin supporter but I am not a Tomlin apologist. I think this situation was handled poorly, I think we traded a potential star for essentially nothing, in my opinion. and I think we will look back on this trade with regret and remorse.

I hope I am wrong, I really do. But, somehow, I don't think I will be wrong.