Kevin Colbert has been a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization for 22 years. His first title, which he wore for half of his time here, was Director of Football Operations from 2000 to 2010. Later in 2010, he was made the first person in team history formally to be given the title of General Manager. He added a second title to GM in 2016, now also Vice President.
Now 65 years old, Colbert decided—a year ago, he recently revealed—that it was time to take a step back, and he would be transitioning out of his general manager chair, effective following the 2022 NFL Draft. What happens after that, aside from hiring a new general manager, remains uncertain.
Speaking to the media earlier this week, he was deliberate in avoiding the ‘r’ word. “I’m not going to use the word ‘retirement’ because I may or may not have a role”, he said, via transcript, which is something that had already previously been reported, but this is the first we have heard it directly from a source.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette went further, writing in an article that, indeed, he is “expected” to continue to work within the organization, “in a reduced role”, after vacating the general manager role.
This could work out not unlike the setup the Baltimore Ravens have, in which longtime general manager Ozzie Newsome stepped down from that role, giving wat to protégé Eric DeCosta, but continuing to function in a background role with the title of Executive Vice President. DeCosta’s official title in the organization is Executive Vice President & General Manager.
The potential difference, of course, would be if Pittsburgh decides to hire from outside the organization. They will likely have interviewed more than a dozen external candidates by the time they make a final decision after the draft.
But they still have two in-house options that should be considered frontrunners in Omar Khan, who has been with the team since 2001 in an administrative role, and Brandon Hunt, who has been their Pro Scouting Coordinator since 2010.
The Steelers will likely have interviewed more than a dozen external candidates for the job by the time they make a final decision following the 2022 NFL Draft, a process that Colbert has been very involved in, including helping to compile a list of candidates that suit what the team is looking for.
While I acknowledge there is some excitement in the potential for an outside voice to bring about some desired change in the way the Steelers traditionally do business, I also would like to see the steady hand of Colbert remain in the building.
He can serve as something of a bridge as the front office transitions to a new voice in the general manager chair, especially if it’s from someone outside the building. It would also be helpful in growing the relationship between the newcomer and head coach Mike Tomlin.