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Omar Khan And Co. Not Playing Around This Offseason



It’s not even March and the Pittsburgh Steelers have already released four players. In a first wave, they parted ways with QB Mitch Trubisky, T Chukwuma Okorafor, and P Pressley Harvin III. More recently, they added C Mason Cole to that list. That’s four players who opened the 2022 season as starters, which leaves us with only one conclusion.

General manager Omar Khan isn’t playing around.

I say that in a general tone because the Steelers reach decisions such as these as a collective. Khan didn’t singlehandedly decide to release Harvin without talking to anybody about it. The organization made these moves after no doubt lengthy discussions with head coach Mike Tomlin and others. Members of the scouting department, coaching staff, and assistant general manager Andy Weidl, presumably, had their say beforehand.

But we frequently judge eras by their most significant faces or the most significant changes. For more than two decades, the Steelers had Kevin Colbert as their general manager/director of football operations. Khan is only going into his second full offseason in the GM role, and the team is clearly more aggressive.

To dispel any notions that they made these moves purely for cap-compliance purposes, they released Cole after the announcement of a more than $30 million rise in the salary cap. No, these are personnel decisions, moving on from key players they feel they need to upgrade.

None of the moves are shocking, even if not all felt guaranteed. Okorafor lost his starting job and made too much to be a backup. You can put him on top of the list of predictable moves. Trubisky’s only lifeline was the risk of losing Mason Rudolph in free agency, but clearly they were prepared to move on regardless. As for Harvin, they already stuck by him twice, and now they don’t even have a punter.

With Cole, they also don’t have a viable starting center. But they didn’t seem to feel that Cole gave them a viable starting center, either, or else he’d still be here. Outside of Harvin, all of these moves save them decent cap space and cash and helped drive the moves.

The question is, what comes next? There are still other decisions to make. Most still anticipate they are going to release WR Allen Robinson II, but can they adjust his deal? What about CB Patrick Peterson and the nearly $7 million they owe him for 2024?

We haven’t even gotten to the fun bits of the offseason yet for Khan. The Steelers are not rolling in dough, but with the explosion of the cap, they can make moves to create space. They could make a decent splash on the open market if they choose to do so.

Priority number one is figuring out the quarterback position, though. Kenny Pickett stands in one corner, but who in the other? Do they re-sign Rudolph and call it a day? Do they bring in another player? Perhaps they are actually open to trading for a veteran?

We’ve learned in the past two offseasons to loosen our expectations because Khan has shown greater flexibility than his predecessor. The changes are not radical, perhaps, but they are significant enough that we’re talking about them. And greater aggression doesn’t equal greater results. I don’t think anybody is lauding the Allen Robinson II or Kevin Dotson trades right now.


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