This offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers has been one of great change overall for the black and gold.
From the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger to the impending retirement of longtime GM Kevin Colbert, two of the biggest figureheads outside of head coach Mike Tomlin are moving on after two decades of work in the city of Pittsburgh.
Months removed from Roethlisberger hanging his cleats up for the final time, and just days removed from Colbert’s final draft as GM of the Steelers, the change is nearly complete, as Colbert has set the Steelers up in a strong position moving forward at the quarterback position post-Roethlisberger with the signing of veteran Mitch Trubisky in free agency, and the selections of Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun in the draft last weekend.
Still, Colbert — appearing on The Mark Madden Show Wednesday afternoon — knows it will be incredibly weird seeing a different starting quarterback at Saint Vincent College this summer for Steelers’ training camp after being used to seeing No. 7 on the field each and every day.
“There’s no doubt. I mean, I was very fortunate to have him part of my career for those 18 years, and he’s a huge part of our success,” Colbert said to Madden, according to audio via iHeart Radio. “And sometimes when you have that franchise quarterback, you know, they can hide some deficiencies that your team may have. So I think when we don’t have that player, that type of player, especially at that position, we’ll find out who we are.
“Again, we put together a group of young, young players at that position, and hopefully one of them can emerge as the next guy,” Colbert added. “And who’s to say that they’ll ever come close to equaling what Ben did, but it’s intimidating. And it’s exciting at the same time because we have to move on…there’s nothing you can do to change that other than just to try to make the most of the situation.”
For 18 years together, Colbert and Roethlisberger experienced some incredible highs (two Super Bowl championships, multiple AFC North division titles) and some pain-staking lows (playoff losses, missing the postseason entirely). As Colbert points out, having a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s caliber over those 18 years helped mask some of the deficiencies that the Steelers may have had throughout the roster.
Now, with Roethlisberger settling into daily life as a stay-at-home Dad, the Steelers have the inevitable task of trying to replace the Hall of Famer.
Colbert, to his credit, threw as much as he could at the problem, signing Trubisky hours into the legal tampering period in free agency, and then grabbed Pickett at No. 20 overall in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, before then adding Oladokun at No. 241 overall in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
How well those guys replace Roethlisberger moving forward will determine just how competitive the Steelers will remain post-Colbert as well. As he states, it’s intimidating trying to replace a Hall of Fame player at the game’s most important position, but it’s also exciting. Steelers fans were able to see that excitement one final time from Colbert in his role as GM, as he traveled all over the country scouting quarterbacks before grabbing the guy next door in Pickett.
Hopefully the next Steelers’ GM is just as fortunate to have Pickett for the majority of his career as Colbert was with Roethlisberger.