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Omar Khan Unheralded Key To Steelers’ Success

Since 2010, the Seattle Seahawks sport a 50-30 record, a Super Bowl victory, and separated by a Malcolm Butler interception from another. They’ve found their franchise quarterback and can confidently claim having one of the best secondaries in the league.

And I can’t quite figure out what fan base is happier. The Seahawks or the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It was in 2010 John Schneider chosen to be the general manager of Seattle. Over a several list of candidates, including the Steelers own Omar Khan.

You’d be hard pressed to find many fans who can nail down Khan’s job title: Director of Football and Business Administration. Colloquially known as “the cap guy.” Despite the Steelers typically being admonished for their lack of cap space, Khan has wonderfully danced around the limit.

Dave Bryan, far more advanced in the language than I, broke down the current projected cap space yesterday. The verdict? Pittsburgh is over $6.3 million in the black. And as others have noted, the team will only be in significantly better shape once LaMarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu’s dead money come off the books next year.

It can’t always be an easy job. Khan doesn’t get to choose the players to sign, he only has to make the contract work. It, at times, can be a tricky game, but Khan – time and time again – has made it work. There has to be a level of trust and comfort having that kind of experience, knowledge, and passion on your side.

Agents agree.

“He’s going to be prepared, he’s going to be forward, he’s going to be tough. He’s always going to be willing to listen to you even if he doesn’t agree with you. You better be prepared because he’s on top of his business,” agent Joel Segal told Scott Brown about in a profile of Khan, a superb article I strongly encourage you all to take a look at.

I doubt Mike Tomlin will be handing him a headset and playcall sheet anytime soon, but don’t peg him as just a numbers guy. Khan has been around the game since college, working as a student assistant at Tulane in several facets of the game before getting his first NFL gig with the New Orleans Saints, spending part of his time with a then offensive coordinator, Mike McCarthy. Another of Khan’s duties with New Orleans was cutting up film the offensive quality control coach, keeping him close to the field and unquestionably increasing his football IQ.

By all accounts from Brown’s profile on him, the Steelers have themselves a tireless worker and a guy who genuinely loves his job.

No contract is finalized without his blessing. And that can lead to some hectic times. As much of a meticulous, perfectionist-driven event the NFL Draft is, the moments after the draft are anything but. Pure chaos as 32 teams are in a free-for-all for the top undrafted free agents.

“That’s the most hectic time of the whole draft weekend. You’re signing and negotiating and recruiting 15 to 20 more players in a three- or four-hour period. Out of the whole year, that is the most hectic time of organized chaos there is when it comes to adding players,” Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told The Star-Tribune shortly before this Aprils’ main event.

While every team’s system may slightly differ, Spielman explained the system that is mostly universal for any team. Every time a UDFA commits, it gets brought to the cap expert.

Bringing it back to the present, the Steelers plan worked. Manage the checkbook for a couple years until the increased league cap offered the team relief.

What happens on the field is what you notice. But what happens off it, in an office Khan calls home, is what makes it all go.

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