Steelers Enter Final Phase of GM Search; 2nd Interviews for Titans, Bucs Execs

Kevin Colbert

Michael Hickey/Getty Images Kevin Colbert, general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, speaks to reporters during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022.

Late last week, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert revealed that his contract expires on May 31, 2022. So it makes sense that the Steelers are moving to conduct a second round of interviews with the candidates who are finalists for the job, which is coming open thanks to Colbert’s retirement.

According to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, interviews have been scheduled with Tennessee Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden and Tampa Bay Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek, among others. Those are just two of the 16 individuals who were part of the first round of interviews, which were conducted in February and March.

Most of the first-round candidates are current NFL front office executives but there are exceptions, including ESPN commentator Louis Riddick and former Steelers executive Doug Whaley, who is working as senior vice president of player personnel for the XFL.

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Former NFL GM Randy Mueller: ‘Ideal’ to Hire Under These Circumstances

What’s clear is that it has been an unusually long and comprehensive search, made possible by the fact that Colbert riding off into the sunset, so to speak, as opposed to being fired.

“Not many people are around as long as Kevin, where you can pick your exit strategy,” says Randy Mueller, a former NFL general manager who was the 2000 NFL Executive of the Year with the New Orleans Saints.

“I think it’s ideal to be able to hire someone under these circumstances,” Mueller told Heavy.com, noting that the Steelers have cast an unusually wide net in conducting their hiring search, which has included internal and external candidates, as well as candidates both young and experienced.

The former Saints and Miami Dolphins GM has no doubt that the Steelers have used the time and information gleaned from the first round of interviews in all sorts of ways.

“They may have gathered information that helped them in the draft process and in the free agent process. When you bring in the amount of names they have, it’s a great way to gain knowledge and a great window into how people in other organizations operate,” he says.

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As to whether he expects the Steelers to go outside the organization when choosing Colbert’s replacement, Mueller says he can only guess as to what the organization might do.

“I have no inside information but it wouldn’t surprise me if they stay status quo and do a little job sharing with maybe Coach Tomlin over the top,” he said, implicitly making reference to the fact that the Steelers have a pair of internal candidates — vice president of football & business administration Omar Khan and pro scouting coordinator Brandon Hunt — who could be part of the solution going forward.

On the other hand, on Thursday, May 5 Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Hunt is scheduled to interview for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles, perhaps suggesting that he might leave the team if he doesn’t get promoted.

But one thing seems certain, says Mueller, and that’s that Colbert had a hand in recommending candidates to Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II. Colbert even said as much when talking to the media immediately after the 2022 NFL Draft came to an end.

“I made initial recommendations and we interviewed some great people, including two great internal candidates,” indicated Colbert.

“Kevin is old school,” says Mueller, in the sense that he has always spent a lot of time on the road, making school visits and getting to know scouts, not to mention spending countless hours in film rooms.

“His knowledge of the landscape of personnel people around the league is going to be better than any search firm could bring them, that’s for sure,” concludes Mueller. “I would think he’d have been front and center involved.”


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