The Kenny Pickett train has slowed and is about to run out of diesel. Pickett haters were so over him the day he was drafted. Most in support of the young Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller prefer to refrain from judgment until the team finds a more efficient and suitable offensive coordinator. Only that process of finding that perfect fit isn’t easy, and with Pittsburgh’s history of ordinary staff hires, it might not happen in the initial post-Matt Canada attempt.
Trading T.J. Watt is a bold take, most that Steelers Nation would probably find ridiculous. But the case Kevin Adams and Jersey Jerry present on the Steel Here podcast is one that makes you go, Hmmmm.
“This time next year, Watt will be 30,” Adams said. “Hypothetically, say Kenny has another average season, or we have a new offensive coordinator, so it takes him a year to get comfortable, and still only looks kinda decent at the end of that.”
“Going into the following season (2025), T.J.’s gonna be 31 years old. If you have to look at another quarterback at that point, then you’re drafting one. Rookies don’t come in and win, so T.J.’s 32, T.J.’s 33, and he’s past his prime.”
Had the Steelers shocked the NFL world and traded Watt on Tuesday, they’d be set for the foreseeable future.
“If the Steelers traded, let’s just say, T.J. Watt at the deadline, I can guarantee you, they would’ve gotten more than two firsts,” Jerry added. “They probably would’ve gotten two firsts and a good player, two firsts and third, two firsts and maybe even a second.”
Though there’s no replacing Watt, Pittsburgh could draft another star edge-rusher and a top quarterback with those picks. And it’s not too late to get a similar return in 2024.
Unless you’re in a perfect system (ahem, Brock Purdy) — in which the Steelers are lightyears and a new head coach away from — an average quarterback as Pickett appears to be can’t take them to the Promise Land.
It used to be said that defense wins games (as it has on a couple of occasions for Pittsburgh this year). But consistent winning in the modern NFL requires a solid, near-MVP caliber QB to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts. Watt is an alien, but he can’t do it all, especially since, like us all, he’s not getting any younger.
With Mike Tomlin’s endless commitment to 9-8 mediocrity, the Steelers are never going to have a top-five pick in which to select a potential franchise-altering quarterback of the future. Picking in the bottom half of the draft just won’t get it done. As we know, Terry Bradshaw was first overall, and Ben Roethlisberger, 11th. Though a painful consideration, trading Watt — before he’s 100 in football years — could be the only answer.
The thought of a Pittsburgh Steelers team without T.J. Watt on it is nearly unfathomable. But it could be one of the only things the Steelers can do to acquire high draft picks — aside from tanking at a realistic point in-season. And that’s not something Tomlin and the Rooneys would ever be caught dead doing.
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