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The Steelers search for a new General Manager might not be conventional

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ search for their next GM might not go as many fans would want/like.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering an offseason where they are experiencing more turnover than usual. Just look at the changes which will take place:

  • New Defensive Coordinator
  • New Outside Linebackers Coach
  • New Offensive Line Coach
  • New Quarterback
  • Several other key free agents
  • New General Manager

About that last bullet point, many fans are wondering what the search for a new General Manager (GM) will look like. It has already been made known how Kevin Colbert will remain with the Steelers throughout the 2022 NFL Draft, but what will the process look like to bring in the next GM?

While meeting with media last week, team president Art Rooney II shed some light on what this process will look like to find the next GM, whether that’s in-house or not.

“Kevin will fill his normal role through this year’s draft. I don’t see it as something critical that we have somebody on board before the draft, even though we’ll be doing some interviews prior to the draft. But more than likely we’ll fill the position after the draft.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The Steelers aren’t planning on naming the next GM before the draft. Rather, they will allow Colbert to do his usual job, and then turn the reigns over to the next GM.

One thing which stood out in Rooney’s comments, was how the organization could considering keeping Colbert on board in an advisory role, even after the new GM has been hired. This isn’t out of the ordinary for NFL teams, the Baltimore Ravens did the very same thing when Ozzie Newsome stepped down, but helped Eric DeCosta get settled before completely taking over.

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

Hunt and Khan have long been considered the front-runners for the GM job once Colbert decides he is done, and it will be interesting how the Steelers fill that role, if they choose one of the aforementioned candidates. However, despite what conventional thought/wisdom would say, it looks like the Steelers are just going to take a wait-and-see approach to their next GM after the draft, rather than naming the next GM as the ‘GM in waiting’.

Whether the job goes to Hunt or Khan, or potentially someone out of the organization, will come down to the expectations the team has for their GM. They do things differently in Pittsburgh compared to other NFL teams, and they don’t expect that to change.

“A GM has a lot of responsibilities these days,” said Rooney, “and we’ll be hiring somebody who can fulfill all those responsibilities, which No. 1 includes being a talent evaluator and putting our draft together and everything else that goes with working as a GM in the NFL today. Having said that, we’re looking for somebody who fits with the way we’re structured and our culture. We’re not really planning to change our own structure here.”

If you’re not sure what makes the Steelers’ GM position different than others, Bob Labriola of Steelers.com explains:

What Rooney was referring to is that some teams have a general manager who is responsible for the hiring and firing of the head coach, who has complete control of the roster, who makes the final decision on every draft pick. That’s not how the Steelers operate. While Colbert was involved in the process that replaced Bill Cowher following the 2006 season, it wasn’t his decision alone. Colbert definitely is very influential as a talent evaluator, but decisions made during the draft are not his alone to make. The 2019 trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick that sent the Dolphins the Steelers’ No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft had to be approved by Rooney. That’s the way the Steelers always have operated, even back in the day when the head of the player personnel department was a son of the owner.

So, all that said, it is safe to say the Steelers search for their next GM will not be conventional. It likely won’t be made as public as other teams make their GM search, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While unconventional, who Rooney ultimately chooses to replace Colbert will be something to watch as the offseason progresses, mainly after the 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for a very exciting offseason.