Steelers GM has 'full faith' in Kenny Pickett after struggles

ByBROOKE PRYOR
February 29, 2024, 5:49 PM

INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite a rocky sophomore campaign from quarterback Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan still expresses confidence in the 2022 first-round pick.

"I have full faith in Kenny," Khan said at the NFL scouting combine Thursday. "He's shown us some good things, and obviously there were some issues with the offense.

"I'm excited about the impact that [new offensive coordinator] Arthur Smith's going to have on him. Arthur's very optimistic about Kenny and they communicated, and like I said, we will have some strong competition there and we'll see where it goes. Feel really good about him."

Pickett was limited to 12 games last season because of an ankle injury in Week 13 that resulted in TightRope surgery. He finished with six touchdown passes and four interceptions while his QBR declined from 53.6 to 38.1. Though he was medically cleared to return prior to Week 17, the Steelers stuck with Mason Rudolph for the final two regular-season games and the wild-card game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Steelers won their final three games with Rudolph to reach the playoffs and scored 34 and 30 points in back-to-back games -- the only times last season that the Steelers broke the 30-point barrier.

With Rudolph set to hit free agency and the release of Mitch Trubisky, Pickett is the only Steelers quarterback under contract. But, echoing coach Mike Tomlin and his desire to bring in competition for Pickett, Khan said he expects to round out the room with three quarterbacks by the time the season starts under Smith.

"We have some work to do," Khan said. "Competition makes us all better, and that's regardless of position. I think that's just in life regardless of what you do."

That competition could come from Rudolph, who Khan expressed a desire to bring back.

"We've been in communication with his representative," Khan said, "and he knows we want him back."

Khan, though, deflected questions about possible trade or free agency targets like Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson.

"I'm not going to go into details about the conversations that we've had," Khan said, "but I can tell you that I have an obligation to look at every avenue that's out there to try to make us a better football team."

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