While the Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for new players to add to their roster, they’re also searching for something else. A new general manager. For the first time since 2000, the Steelers are tasked with finding a new man to run the team. Kevin Colbert has confirmed he’s stepping down after April’s draft with a new GM to be hired after that. So far, the team has done an initial round of interviews with thirteen people.
Speaking with Steelers Nation Radio on Tuesday, Colbert outlined how that search is going.
“We really don’t get into specifics about what they do at a given organization,” Colbert said of the first interviews. “We’re just trying to give Art an understanding of who these folks are. Once we get down and narrow it down to, whoever’s gonna come back for the second interviews we may drill down more on, ‘how would you go about this?’ We haven’t really of gotten into specifics about our team, their approach in this round. It’s just Art learning who these who these folks are and what they’ve done to this point. We get into a little bit of maybe what they’ll plan to do but honestly, we’ll narrow that in tighter on the second round.”
Essentially, here is how the process has gone. Colbert has been tasked with creating a list of people to be part of the first round of interviews. Colbert knows the league, knows a lot of these people, and can offer better recommendations than Rooney would be able to. Colbert and Rooney are part of the first interview and initial vetting process largely done to get Rooney familiar with the group of names.
From there, the team will conduct a second round of interviews following the draft. Mike Tomlin will then be part of that process with the Steelers diving into exactly how the finalists would run the team. Ultimately, Rooney will make the decision of who the team will hire.
Eleven of the candidates have been external personnel with two in-house selections, Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt. Colbert praised both men in the interview and the value of staying inside the organization.
“It’s been great. They’re capable folks that have grown up in the system. Omar’s been in that cap world, the operations world, but he’s also been involved in our process every step of the way. Maybe not as an evaluator but certainly understanding it and given us contributions from a cap perspective, Brandon grew up in the personnel side and he’s learned the cap side of things much like Omar learned the personnel side. So they’ve grown.
“The great thing about both of them, they’ve both done great jobs, but they understand what the Pittsburgh Steelers are about. Some folks from outside that we may talk to may have been part of it at some point in time, but they have an obviously in-house perspective, which I think is very valuable.”
Khan and Hunt have been long-term members of the organization. Khan was hired in 2001, Colbert’s second year, while Hunt’s second stint with the Steelers began in 2011.
Pittsburgh has certainly done their due diligence on outsiders, interviewing more candidates than most people expected. Their finalist list, of course, will be much shorter. Khan and Hunt are almost certainly going to be part of that group with one to three external names among them. From there, the Steelers will make a decision. Hiring from within is the most likely direction but when there’s eleven outsiders, it only takes one to blow the team away, just as Mike Tomlin did in 2007.
“If we’re talking to a person under contract, we have to do it before March 1st. After March 1st, the team could say, ‘No, you can’t talk to our person until after the draft.’ So we did that. We’ll continue to go through it. We may interview some other folks that aren’t under contract in this period. But once we move down the road on the draft preparation, we’ll really zero in and focus on that and make more interviews and more decisions after the draft.”