Steelers Omar Khan is building the ugliest looking puzzle in 2024

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It has certainly been an offseason to remember for the Steelers. I can’t recall in my lifetime there being this many notable trades in a single month as what we have seen Pittsburgh make since the start of the new league year. They traded away Kenny Pickett and Diontae Johnson and turned around and added Justin Fields. Throw in Russell Wilson and Patrick Queen and you have quite the turnover in just one offseason.

It was pretty clear early on that Omar Khan was going to do things differently once he became general manager. Last year, his first full offseason as the general manager, we saw the team draft differently (trade-backs, positional value) and uniquely attack free agency. Nothing has prepared me for this offseason though.

While I can’t bemoan every move that has been made, when you begin piecing it together, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. On their own, the moves make sense, as the price to acquire/value received is worth it. When you try to build it out though, I’m not sure everything will work. The bits and pieces look ok, but I’m nervous that this team won’t be able to piece their entire puzzle together when push comes to shove.

Do the Steelers moves make sense?

Let's go back to the beginning of the offseason. Pittsburgh decided to go with the safe choice at offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith. His ideal offense is based around a strong running game and a quarterback who can make safe choices and hit the big play when needed. You don’t need a dynamic passer like Patrick Mahomes to succeed.

While I had my reservations about this signing, there was a semblance of sense here. You had a pair of top running backs to build the offense around and a question mark at quarterback in Kenny Pickett. Smith’s offense, while limiting long-term, could have some short-term success while this team sorted out their quarterback question.

The offseason continued, and in a relatively surprising fashion, the Steelers signed Russell Wilson. While the expectation was for a veteran to be brought in, Wilson was not the expected choice. The team had come out and backed Pickett as their guy, but Wilson, despite his decline, was expected to come in and start.

The financials really drove home the point of this deal though. Due to his contract structure in Denver, he was going to be paid by them this year unless Wilson signed a deal that exceeded the money that he was owed. So he signed for the minimum and will essentially get paid this season by the Broncos still.

The moves didn’t stop. Johnson was next, as he was dealt to the Panthers for a late-round pick swap and cornerback Donte Jackson. This puts a band-aid on the cornerback position while opening up a huge hole at receiver. With Johnson wanting out, there wasn’t much you could do, but the value is tough to get behind.

Pickett soon followed, going to the Eagles for a swap of mid-round picks and a pair of sevenths next year. I saw a lot of value in this, as keeping Pickett now would have tanked any value you could get for him, and the Steelers were clearly moving in a different direction.

That said, you gave up a player that, seemingly, would have worked well in Smith’s offense. On top of this, you had just used your first-round pick in the draft two years ago to acquire him. Moving up 20 or so spots in the draft and some late future picks isn’t a great consolation prize. It also left you with only Wilson on the roster, a strange move given his regression as a veteran.

And then the bombshell dropped; Justin Fields, welcome to the team. Again, like all of these moves, there was some logic here. You gave up a day three pick in 2025, a pick that could potentially just be a sixth-round selection. Fields has the pedigree and potential, but he is far from a sure thing.

What have the Steelers done?

Every move in a vacuum seems ok for the team. You landed two quarterbacks who will cost you roughly five million against the cap this season for a conditional 2025 draft pick. You also got some value, albeit middling value, from two players who didn’t want to be here anymore. On the surface, this is great for Pittsburgh.

When you try to stack these moves though, they get a lot more questionable. You have had one of the worst offenses in recent years, so you bring in Smith to stabilize the room. He needs a steady quarterback and a top-end game manager to work his offense. Wilson can be viewed as that type to an extent, but Fields certainly isn’t.

You also trade away one of your top two receiving weapons in Johnson. While Smith uses some heavier sets on offense, he will still need a second receiver. That name is currently TBD, as the likes of Van Jefferson and Marquez Callaway don’t inspire a lot of confidence. You didn’t land a premium pick with that trade either, meaning the receiver was just further opened up as a need.

Next. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. 6 receivers the Steelers must sign to replace Diontae Johnson. dark

It doesn’t feel like Khan is putting together one singular puzzle. I feel like he has three to four opened up and started, and while the moves for each individual deal made sense, now he has to force the whole puzzle together. Maybe it works out and he creates some sort of modern art masterpiece with all of these different pieces working together. That said, it has been a confusing build and one that I can’t be overly confident in for 2024.