The Pittsburgh Steelers are known for few things, if any, more than they are known for consistency. Even taking just the recent past, they have had the same head coach for the past 15 years. They have had the same quarterback for the past 18. And they have had the same general manager for the past 21 years.
That would be Kevin Colbert, who has alternately held the title of Director of Football Operations (2000-2010), General Manager (2010-2016), and finally Vice President/General Manager (2016-present). The Pittsburgh native, now at or near retirement age, is rumored to be angling in that direction. Head coach Mike Tomlin addressed those rumors earlier today during his post-season press conference.
“You know, he and I have had discussions about it, but I’ll leave it to Kevin to address any issues regarding him and his future”, he said. “My plan and our plan is to proceed in the short term like we always do. He’s on me already, bringing me up to speed with draft availability and value in that space and planning about how we’re going to move”.
Colbert said a couple of years back that he would be taking his career one season at a time from this point forward, operating on one-year contracts, which run through the end of each draft. Reports have indicated that he is expected to retire after this year’s draft. But even if that is indeed the case, he still has work to do.
“We were talking about Mobile this morning”, Tomlin acknowledged. “You don’t want to talk about the Senior Bowl this time of year because that means you’re not in the tourney and he understands that. But he also understands that there’s necessary discussion and planning that he and I have to have. And so we already started that process and it’s always an enjoyable one”.
Colbert is the only general managerial partner Tomlin has ever known, much like Ben Roethlisberger is the only starting quarterback he has ever known. To lose both in one offseason would mark a tremendous amount of change in his tenure, even if many feel it is due.
“Man, we have big-time continuity and understanding within our relationship that has been great”, he said of his longtime working relationship with Colbert. “It needs to be great as we get into this offseason’s work. And so that’s where my focus is and not some of the things that have been kicked around, although I acknowledge that they have been kicked around”.
Whether Colbert is here for the 2022 regular season or not, it remains the case that this is a critically important offseason that will go a long way toward determining the trajectory of the franchise for the next few years, at a minimum.
He will remain an instrumental part in that, and if he does indeed retire, it will be a key piece of his legacy, with respect to the shape in which he leaves the franchise that he helped turn into a multiple-time champion. He could, like the Baltimore Ravens’ Ozzie Newsome, fall back into just his Vice-Presidential role, however, even if he moves on from the role of General Manager.