Newly-hired Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan recently went on the Jed Hughes Podcast to talk about his new role. Hughes asked Khan about players in the NFL leveraging their contract situations to get a big extension or to get traded, mentioning Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady as players who have successfully done so. Khan was asked how he felt those instances were affecting the NFL.
“I think you just have to create an environment where guys, number one, don’t want to leave, and some of that comes with some of the amenities you’re providing them. You obviously have to treat them well. But I think it’s key to make them feel at home. I think we do that here,” Khan said.
For the most part, Pittsburgh has done a good job of making players happy and making sure guys want to stay with the team. The Le’Veon Bell situation and the Antonio Brown situation are two recent cases where guys decided they wanted to leave for one reason or another, and in the end, letting the two of them go probably worked out better for Pittsburgh. After leaving the Steelers, Brown had more than his fair share of off-the-field issues, while Bell was never the same running back after sitting out the 2018 season. Bell’s issue was monetary, and Khan did tell Hughes that money is an important consideration.
“Obviously the money is the important part of it. And I think we’ve been fair and we’re going to continue to do that. And I think guys just have to feel at home.”
With both WR Diontae Johnson and S Minkah Fitzpatrick due for new contracts, it’ll be interesting to see what Khan and the rest of the Steelers’ front office believes is fair market value. Johnson missed OTAs last week due to his contract dispute, which ultimately isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s something to pay attention to. Ideally, if the Steelers believe that Johnson is worthy of a new contract, they’ll have him locked up prior to Week 1 of the regular season. However, with the wide receiver market exploding, I’m curious to see what the Steelers and Khan ultimately decide to do with Johnson and how much he could possibly make on a new extension.
The idea that Pittsburgh is a place where people feel at home is something that I’m sure the veterans on the team can speak to, and it’s a tradition that’s been carried for a long time. From guys like Brett Keisel, whose still an ardent supporter of the team in retirement, to longtime veterans like Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh is more than just a team to some of these guys, and I love that Khan wants to continue with that culture. It’s one of the things that makes the Steelers such a well-run and special organization in football, and while most of it has to do with the Rooney’s, it’s important the front office and coaching staff treat it the same way, and it appears that will be the case with Khan at the helm.