Kenny Pickett’s rookie season is in the books and there’s a lot to be excited about the potential future of the franchise.
Steelers have surrounded Kenny with a very solid supporting cast for the next few years. Najee Harris, George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth are all under contract for the foreseeable future.
More offensive additions are expected throughout the 2023 NFL offseason. Hopefully, most importantly, an improved offensive line.
Defensively, Steelers also have Minkah Fitzpatrick, TJ Watt, and Cam Heyward locked up for the long run. Similar to Kenny, those 3 guys need a stronger supporting cast in the trenches.
This upcoming offseason is going to be very interesting and very important as we continue the Kenny Pickett era. Steelers need to take a jump while Kenny is still under his rookie contract.
Other teams in the NFL have already struck with their QBs under rookie deals, including an AFC North rival.
Kansas City & Patrick Mahomes
The Kansas City Chiefs are going to be the kings of the AFC for years to come. It didn’t take them long to set that tone under Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs have been to every AFC Championship since Mahomes took over and won the Super Bowl twice since 2018. They won their first SB under Mahomes in only his second year as a starter.
They continued to build around Mahomes and invested a lot into the offensive line. Even trading Tyreek Hill didn’t hurt them. Mahomes is a different demon.
Cincinnati & Joe Burrow
It still sours me that the Bengals are an AFC elite and much like Mahomes, it didn’t take long for Burrow to make his mark.
The Bengals took Burrow #1 overall after going 2-14 in Zac Taylor’s first year and completely let everyone forget about the Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis days.
In Burrow’s second year, they drafted his top target from LSU and together they not only won their first playoff game since 1990 but went all the way to the Super Bowl.
Ultimately, they lost but followed with another AFC Championship appearance the next year.
Burrow and company are about to cash in on massive paychecks, so they can’t keep everyone, but their run will remain for years to come.
Philadelphia & Jalen Hurts
Jalen Hurts was a controversial pick for the Eagles back in 2020, but moving on from Carson Wentz was the best thing the Eagles could’ve done.
Hurts made his presence felt very quickly and under Nick Sirianni, they’ve had a productive last two seasons.
Making the playoffs their first year together, followed by a Super Bowl appearance the next was the best time to cash in on their roster, especially with Hurts under a rookie contract.
They didn’t win the big game and losing both coordinators and many big-name free agents expected to leave puts the Eagles future in some question, but you notice a trend here.
Elite teams are striking before it’s too late!
When you look at the aforementioned teams, there’s not a lot of difference between them and the Steelers if you look at it from a roster and contract aspect. All teams have/had QBs and most of their roster under rookie deals and fixed glaring holes via free agency.
These teams were contending in no time. Is it the Steelers turn?
Steelers need to strike while Kenny is still under a rookie contract, but also because time is running out on the defense.
Watt, Minkah, Heyward, and Highsmith (contract coming up) can only do so much and need a support system in the front 7.
This will only benefit the team overall and Kenny himself. Make no mistake about it, Kenny needs to come out and show himself as the franchise. I think we all trust and believe in Pickett. He’s already working in the offseason!
The biggest concern about the team and any possible success in the future is indeed the COACHING STAFF.
Steelers have done little to no moves regarding the offensive staff and Canada will return as the Steelers OC. Be optimistic if you want, I am not, and don’t trust our OC to further this offense.
Canada needs to step it up as a coach and scheme the passing game to be more aggressive and spread out.
You notice with teams like the Chiefs, Bengals, and Eagles. Their coaching staffs are incredible and among the best in the league. In fact, 3 coordinators that were in the Super Bowl are now on new teams.
Coaching has let the Steelers down for so many years and that’s due to their complacency and constant in-house hiring. I like to call it the buddy system.
Current owner Art Rooney II is fearful of any coaching changes in fear of roadblocking Kenny’s development. He’s throwing a huge gamble in believing in the current staff that has seen barely any achievements outside of non-losing seasons.
The entire coaching staff must step it up in these next few years because the window has been closing for years now. Remaining with the same core might just slam it completely.
All we hope for is an improved mindset from the staff. I trust the team to build the roster, I want to say the same about the coaching. It will make or break if the Steelers can cash in on Kenny before his rookie contract runs out.
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