At some point in the relatively near future, the Pittsburgh Steelers will name a new general manager, with Kevin Colbert stepping down from that role after 22-plus seasons, first hired in 2000 to an equivalent post. He did so well in that role that they made him the first individual in team history to officially wear the title of general manager.
Who will be the next? The team already interviewed 16 candidates for the job, but the second phase of the process was not going to take place until after the draft. Colbert confirmed that, for the time being, he will continue to act in the full capacity of general manager, but the timeline is not up to him, rather owner Art Rooney II.
“Art will address that and bring Coach [Mike Tomlin] and I up to speed”, he told reporters during their post-draft press conference on Saturday. “Coach will be more involved with the next wave. I made initial recommendations, and we interviewed some great people, including two great internal candidates. There’s a lot of people that can do this. There’s probably some that can do it better”.
Just before that, Colbert was asked about how he felt about where he is leaving the franchise from when he first took over. Even though it was preceded by a sincere and heartfelt ‘needs no endorsement from me’ speech from Tomlin, it was during the answer to that question, reflecting on his contributions to the Super Bowl trophy room, that the emotions finally hit him.
Colbert’s final draft saw the Steelers draft a quarterback in the first round for the first time since he took Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004. The only other time they drafted a quarterback prior to the fourth round was in 2018 with Mason Rudolph in Round 3.
Whoever is the next general manager will have Kenny Pickett as a core part of his legacy, at least initially. He will be hitting the ground floor with players like Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, as well. I’m certain Colbert wanted to leave this roster in as good of shape as it could be for his successor—whenever that successor is named.
“There will be time. Time will tell, and Art will dictate when that time is to move to the next step”, he said. “He’ll dictate how we want to go about it, how he wants to go about it, and ultimately, he’ll make that decision with whatever input he asks of us”.
Colbert was intimately involved in the first wave of interviews, including recommendations about who he felt was qualified for the job, but as he said, the vast bulk of his work in that department is now done. It sounds like Tomlin will be leading the final wave of interviews—and of course Rooney will do the hiring.
But as Colbert said, “that doesn’t mean it’s over”. As he has consistently maintained all along, he is open to remaining in some capacity within the organization, as long as he and the team feels that he can “help and not hinder”, in his words, their winning efforts.