Thursday, May 19, 2022

Steelers GM search: Pittsburgh bringing in two external candidates for second round of interviews, per report

The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun the second round of interviews to find Kevin Colbert’s successor as general manager. Ryan Cowden, the Titans vice president of player personnel, and Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek are scheduled to interview with the Steelers, according to NFL Media. 

Cowden has spent the past six years with the Titans, who last season clinched the AFC’s No. 1 seed heading into the postseason. He spent the previous 16 years with the Panthers, who won two NFC titles during his time with the franchise. 

Spytek played an integral role in helping build the Buccaneers’ roster that won the franchise’s second Super Bowl at the end of the 2020 season. Spytek, who has spent the past six seasons in Tampa Bay, also won a Super Bowl as a member of the Broncos‘ staff in 2015. Spytek’s NFL experience also includes time with the Browns, Eagles and Lions. He was Tom Brady’s college teammate at the University of Michigan, where he played linebacker from 1999-02.

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Pittsburgh has interviewed several candidates for their general manager position. Internal candidates Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt, as well as ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Louis Riddick, are among the candidates who interviewed with the team earlier this offseason. 

Riddick, a Pitt alumnus and former NFL player, interviewed for the position in early March. 

“I can’t say very much,” Riddick said of the interview, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Simply because this is something that it needs to play itself out. Obviously, everyone knows what my connection is to [Pitt] and this city — what that would mean for me, what that would mean for my family and how it would be kind of like a full-circle moment for me.

“But we’ll just let this play out. Obviously, there are a lot of other good candidates. Mr. Rooney is someone who I don’t think anyone here has any lack of trust in making the right decision, and he’ll do just that. However it shakes out, it won’t change my connection to this city, this university and anything else that’s involved. We’ll see what happens.”

Whoever replaces Colbert will have big shoes to fill. Colbert, who arrived in Pittsburgh in 2000, helped build rosters that won two Super Bowls, three AFC championships, and 10 division titles. The Steelers made the playoffs 14 times in Colbert’s 22 years in Pittsburgh. They had just one losing season, as Pittsburgh’s streak of 18 consecutive non-losing seasons is the longest in the NFL. 

Colbert’s replacement will be tasked with several pressing personnel decisions that include possible contract extensions for receiver Diontae Johnson and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The Steelers are coming off a 2021 season that saw them make the playoffs after compiling a 9-7-1 regular season record. Pittsburgh’s offseason has included the free agent signing of Mitchell Trubisky and the selection of former Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick. Both quarterbacks will compete with Mason Rudolph to be the team’s Week 1 starter. 

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