Will the 2019 season be the final one for Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert with the organization? That’s a question that’s been asked since before the 2019 season got underway and one that will likely be answered not long after the Super Bowl has been played.
On Sunday, however, more speculation surfaced that Colbert might be on his way out of Pittsburgh after the 2019 season is over with to join the front office of the Carolina Panthers.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Sunday, it’s believed that Panthers owner David Tepper is possibly looking to hire Colbert and/or Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan in 2020, according to league sources. Tepper was a minority owner of the Steelers prior to buying the Panthers a few years ago.
Colbert, who is currently in the final year of his current contract that will end after the 2020 NFL Draft takes place, reportedly owns a home in Hilton Head, South Carolina, roughly a three-hour drive from where the Panthers train. Tepper reportedly has stayed in close contact with both Colbert and Khan since he left the Steelers ownership group.
Colbert talked about his contract status with the Steelers earlier in the offseason and explained why he is now on a year-to-year basis with the organization.
“I think it’s just a case of where we are in our lives from a personal standpoint”, he said this past July, referring to himself and his family. “When we did the last contract, it was with the understanding that if we got to the end of that one, it would be a year-to-year basis [from that point on], and thankfully Art [Rooney] was agreeable to that. And that’s where we are, and there’s really nothing else to it. It’s just a personal preference. Again, this is where we are in our lives”.
Colbert also added, “I want to make sure that I’m committed totally for the purpose in 2019, and I want to make sure I feel that was in 2020 and the organization does too, so that we can continue to try to win Super Bowls.”
Steelers team president Art Rooney II also spoke about Colbert and his contract situation this past October while being interviewed by Ian Rapoport.
“Not much to say about Kevin at this point other than that we agreed to talk after the season, which is the way that we have normally done Kevin’s contract, so it really wasn’t anything unusual,” Rooney said. “After next year’s draft, we’ll sit down and see where we go.
“Overall, Kevin’s done a great job for us. It’s certainly his decision in terms of how we proceed. I think he’s at a point in his life where he’s got to make some decisions on those kinds of things, but right now, we’re in the middle of a season, he’s in the middle of getting ready for next year’s draft, so none of us are too worried about the contract right now.”
Colbert has done a fine job once again this season as not only was he able to trade up in the first-round of this year’s draft to select inside linebacker Devin Bush, he also acquired safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins via an early-season trade. Despite all the significant injuries the Steelers have incurred so far this season, the team enters Week 14 as the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
We’ll have to wait and see how things ultimately play out for Colbert and Khan after the 2019 season is over with. If Colbert ultimately leaves the Steelers after his 19th season, odds are good that he’ll land with the Panthers if he’s wanting to continue his career as an NFL executive.