This past weekend, we witnessed outgoing General Manager Kevin Colbert put the finishing touches on what appears to be the latest in a long line of draft class masterpieces that he’s stacked up over his career in the Steel City. The front office work he’s done for the team undoubtedly played a huge part in the two Lombardi Trophies they added over his time. Early in his tenure in 2004, he added the first franchise quarterback the team has seen since the Terry Bradshaw era in Ben Roethlisberger. Fittingly, as he’s closing this chapter of his career, he appears to have added Big Ben’s heir apparent in this year’s draft with the selection of the most pro-ready QB the class had to offer, Heisman finalist Kenny Pickett. This morning, he sat down with the folks at KDKA radio for a time to reflect, and also look forward, as he’s frequently expressed a desire to remain with the team, in some fashion.
“I feel good, I mean, with the draft process concluded, we’re moving on with the 2023 season and of course we’re moving, the organization will move on with the new person in my position,” Colbert said today on the KDKA Radio Morning Show. “So, I think it’s an exciting time, a lot of transition going on with the organization, but I think everything will be great.”
As we’ve all seen in our personal lives when family, friends, and loved ones retire, it usually is an emotional time, considering most have spent the vast majority of their lives in one job, forming irreplaceable bonds and relationships. Throughout this process for Colbert, it’s been filled with emotion, as we saw over the weekend at the team’s post-draft press conference. There, he broke down when the thought of the late Dan Rooney’s impact on his career crossed his mind. He again showed his true character and the massive amount of respect he has for the Rooney family, as he sort-of brushed off a question about his continued role with the team to emphasize focusing on the search for his replacement.
“I mean, my contract ends May 31st and Art will be making decisions on who the next GM will be. In that interim, could I stay in some type of role? We’ve left all those doors open, but the principle will be, if I stay, if I can help and not hinder, then maybe it’ll work out. But, we’re just leaving all those doors open and really the focus for Art will be on trying to find the best person.”
Colbert is widely viewed leaguewide as one of, if not, the best GMs in the NFL. With a list of draft picks over the years that features Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Heath Miller, Maurkice Pouncey, and T.J. Watt, it’s hard to argue his results. Him leaving the organization would seem to leave a massive hole in the front office. Knowing how the team operates, it’s very likely the new GM will have already been taught the ropes by Colbert, as Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt and VP of Football Business & Administration Omar Khan are the two likely favorites. However, when pressed on a question about having more free time at home, it was clear that Colbert intends to stick around, based on the tone in his voice in his reply.
“Oh no, no, we left that open. We really don’t have any concrete plans. And again, we’ll see what happens within the organization, whether there’s a role or not. And then we’ll see what happens as you mentioned.”
Based on his sample size and the contributions he’s given to the team, including two, and almost three, Super Bowl titles over his tenure, if I were a betting man, I’d say he remains on with the team. Perhaps a similar role we can envision Colbert in is in a similar one as the Baltimore Ravens’ former GM, Ozzie Newsome’s current one? Newsome’s name was routinely included right at the top with Colbert’s among the league’s best. Following his retirement in 2018, he stayed on with the team as Executive Vice President. It’s very likely we haven’t seen the last of Colbert.