The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: It’s time to move on from Kevin Colbert as general manager.
Explanation: Kevin Colbert has already stated that he is operating under one-year contracts, and his contracts end after drafts. He currently does not have a contract that carries through beyond this year’s draft. He has been responsible for putting together teams for the past 20 years—and the past 10 years haven’t yielded much in terms of postseason success, with four years running without a playoff win.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Colbert has been putting together the teams the Steelers have fielded all throughout this time, and based on the results on the field, he has been found wanting in this department for at least the past several years. They have three playoff wins since their 2010 Super Bowl loss.
While Colbert has certainly had some success, he also has his limitations. He is very conservative—usually—when it comes to moving around on the draft board, for example, while other organizations have found success acquiring picks. His recent results with late-round successes have also left something to be desired.
Free agency? More misses than hits. For every Joe Haden or Steven Nelson, there’s a Morgan Burnett or a Ladarius Green or a Mark Barron, guys who signed multi-year deals only to be cut a year later. He may be good, but they can do better. The Baltimore Ravens successfully transitioned from Ozzie Newsome to Eric DeCosta.
Given that the most likely candidate to replace Colbert is Brandon Hunt, I’m not sure that much would change, since he has been weened under Colbert’s governance. Sure, there will be some variation, but ultimately, he will share similar principles, so if the method is going to be similar, it doesn’t make sense to push for change.
Besides that, the problem hasn’t been the on-field talent so much as the on-field performance, and that’s on the coaching staff. The scouting department, outside of perhaps the cornerback position, has not been the issue.
Colbert is among the very best in the business, and has shown in recent years the ability to make bolder moves, a la Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick. His 2020 draft class looks like one of his best even without a first-round draft pick and only six picks in total.