Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has long been held in high regard, and rightfully so, for the job that he has done with the team over the course of the past two-plus decades. It’s rare that he’s not included on any reputable list of the best general managers in the NFL.
But he’s not often at the top. For whatever reason, perhaps tied to his less aggressive tactics in free agency and the draft—and the lack of many postseason wins in recent years, naturally—he typically finds himself an also-ran. Not, however, for Matt Miller.
The former Bleacher Report scribe and host of Mic’d Up recently put together his own ranking of general managers throughout the league, and he put the Steelers’ leading man at the top of his list, ahead of Chris Ballard of the Indianapolis Colts and Brandon Beane of the Buffalo Bills, who finished second and third. He writes:
Colbert has overseen the continued stability of the Pittsburgh Steelers since becoming general manager, including becoming the team’s first ever general manager after having the title “Director of Football Operations” from 2000-2010. Colbert successfully navigated replacing legendary head coach Bill Cowher with Mike Tomlin, he’s overseen the roster for two Super Bowl wins, he’s helped manage difficult personalities (Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell), kept a competitive roster around an expensive veteran quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) and hit on draft picks high, low, and major trades (Minkah Fitzpatrick, Devin Bush) that have bolstered the roster.
It is an interesting point that he raises. I recognize that most have long grown tired of the ‘no losing seasons’ line (at least under Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin; they had a losing record in 2003), but there is still something remarkable about that run when paired with the realities of the big cap hits of star players, particularly a franchise arm.
Yet arguably his greatest challenge as a general manager is on the horizon, and that’s how to transition at quarterback as Roethlisberger winds down. They chose to stick with him for at least one more year, but, at 39, that’s clearly not a long-term solution.
“How he manages the future of the quarterback position post-Roethlisberger will ultimately be his legacy which leaves room for Colbert to slip down the rankings in the future”, Miller writes. While I don’t agree that it will be “his legacy”—after all, he has two Super Bowls, as he mentioned—leaving the team in good hands would be the exclamation point on his resume, and possibly even vault him into Hall of Fame territory.