Steelers ‘May Not Hire G.M.’ to Replace Kevin Colbert: Report

Mike Tomlin

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on during pregame warm-ups at Heinz Field on December 5, 2021.

On January 9, 2022, reports first emerged that longtime Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert would be retiring after the 2022 NFL Draft. Less than three weeks later, Steelers President Art Rooney II made it official, saying, “Kevin Colbert is stepping down as our GM after the draft this year. We have left the door open, Kevin and I, to possibly have him fill an ongoing role after the draft, but we will be conducting a search for a new GM starting immediately and probably won’t make a hire until after the draft.”

Rooney went on to note that he already interviewed two in-house candidates, Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt, and if a brand-new report from Ed Bouchette of The Athletic is any indication, the Steelers might proceed to take a divide and conquer approach, if you will.

“Art Rooney II, the team’s owner and president, may split the duties between … Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt, a source indicated to The Athletic on Monday,” writes Bouchette, before reminding readers that Khan is the team’s vice president of football and business administration and Hunt is the organization’s pro scouting coordinator.

In that scenario the Steelers could assign Hunt the title of director of football operations, which was held by Tom Donahoe when he worked alongside Steelers Hall of Fame head coach Bill Cowher in the 1990s. It was also the title held by Colbert for the first decade of his tenure with the Steelers, until Rooney promoted him to general manager in 2010.

Such an approach would also ease the transition away from Colbert, who has “been a pleasure” to work with, according to current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.

At the same time, Tomlin doesn’t anticipate any difficulties in terms of collaborating with whoever comes next. “I make myself an easy person to work with because I don’t have side agendas. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ agenda is the agenda,” he said just last month.

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Doug Whaley Re-Visited?

Meanwhile, the Steelers will interview outside candidates for the job, including Doug Whaley, 49, who preceded Hunt as Steelers pro scouting coordinator before leaving to become assistant general manager of the Buffalo Bills. Whaley was promoted to Bills general manager in 2013 and remained in that role for four years before he was dismissed. In December 2020, Whaley predicted that Kevin Colbert would retire “right after” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a call that turned out to be prescient.

At the moment, Whaley is serving as senior vice president of player personnel for the XFL, whose first season is scheduled to get underway on April 16, with former Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson the head coach of the Pittsburgh Maulers and ex-Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley serving as head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits.

Other Outside Candidates for the General Manager Position

Bouchette indicates that three other outside candidates with Pittsburgh/Steelers connections are likely to get interviews. They are: Andy Weidl, vice president of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles; John Wojciechowski, co-director of player personnel for the Green Bay Packers; and Rob McCartney, director of pro scouting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“All three started out as two-year scouting interns with the Steelers,” notes Bouchette.

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It’s also conceivable that Hunt and/or Khan could leave to become general manager of another team, though neither received offers in the wake of recent interviews. During the last week in January, Hunt interviewed to become the new general manager of the Las Vegas Raiders. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears interviewed Khan for G.M. after getting permission from the Steelers, a job that went to Ryan Poles, who came over from the Kansas City Chiefs.

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