On Tuesday May 17 the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have completed a second interview with Omar Khan for the team’s soon-to-be-vacant General Manager job, the latest development in a months-long search to replace longtime G.M. Kevin Colbert. Khan is the team’s Vice President of Football & Business Administration and has worked in the team’s front office since 2001.
Also on Tuesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network revealed that the Buffalo Bills have interviewed Steelers Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt for that organization’s vacant assistant G.M. position, which was held by Joe Schoen before he left to become general manager of the New York Giants. As noted by Rapoport, Hunt is the other internal candidate for the Steelers’ G.M. position, one of 16 individuals to get a first interview for the job.
But interviewing for a lesser job with the Bills — and previous to that, for a front office position with the Philadelphia Eagles — may be an indicator that Hunt isn’t a finalist for Colbert’s job, though there’s still a chance he could remain in Pittsburgh’s front office going forward.
In January 2022, not long after the Steelers announced that Colbert would be retiring, Ed Bouchette of The Athletic indicated that Khan and Hunt could conceivably end up splitting the job, a reasonably likely outcome in the mind of former NFL general manager Randy Mueller.
“If (the Steelers) are happy with the way things are going and don’t want change, they will probably promote from within. If they want change and fresh eyes and a different set of processes they (will) look outside the building,” said Mueller in an interview with Heavy.com.
As for the prospect of splitting the job between Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt — or Khan and an outside candidate — Mueller doesn’t see any problem with that approach, noting that many teams are divvying up responsibilities these days.
“I’ve seen more teams split things up because the concentration and emphasis on one decision maker is — in their minds — too much,” he told Heavy.
Another reason the Steelers may lean towards an internal hire is to maximize the chance of maintaining the kind of strong working relationship that the team has enjoyed with Colbert and Mike Tomlin, who have worked side-by-side since Tomlin became the team’s head coach in 2007.
“The relationship between head coach and general manager is the No. 1 relationship other than the head coach and the quarterback because they work together every day,” says Mueller. “There can’t be agendas; there has to be full respect and trust. It’s not about either of them being right. It’s about what’s right for the organization and they are the two people that determine how to build the team more than anybody else. There are a lot of people involved, but as the decision makers, they’ve got to be on the same page every day.
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Steelers May ‘Lean on’ Tomlin More in the Future?
Regardless of how the G.M. search plays out, Mueller told Heavy he wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers “lean on” Mike Tomlin a little more going forward.
“Obviously Mike has seen how they have done things there. He will have some of his own ideas but I will be shocked if he doesn’t have a little more juice in the process (in the future), and rightly so. 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. But I don’t know that. That’s me guessing,” he concluded.
The Steelers Have Completed 2nd Interviews With 5 G.M. Finalists
Of course, Omar Khan will need to beat out some stiff competition in order to succeed Colbert.
He’s the fifth candidate to get a second interview with the team, following on the heels of: Andy Weidl (vice president of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles; John Spytek (vice president of player personnel for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers); Ryan Cowden (vice president of player personnel for the Tennessee Titans); and Doug Whaley, who worked alongside Colbert in Pittsburgh’s front office before leaving to become assistant G.M. of the Bills in 2010.
Whaley was promoted to Bills G.M. in 2013 and the team posted a 30-34 record under his direction before he was fired in 2017. He is currently the senior vice president of player personnel for the XFL.
As for Colbert, his contract expires on May 31, 2022, so one can expect a replacement to be named by then — or shortly thereafter.
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