Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Kenny Pickett traded to Eagles: Here’s why Steelers dealt QB after introducing Russell Wilson, per report

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Kenny Pickett is staying in Pennsylvania this NFL season, just not with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hours after introducing Russell Wilson as their new quarterback, the Steelers are trading Pickett, their 2022 first-round draft pick, to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Confirmed by CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones, the deal comes after Pickett informed the Steelers he preferred to move on, per ESPN, with Wilson expected to take over as the starter. The Eagles are sending a 2024 third-round pick and two 2025 seventh-rounders to the Steelers in exchange for Pickett and a 2024 fourth-rounder.

In recent months, the Steelers had defended Pickett after an injury-plagued 2023 campaign, insisting he remained a potential long-term starter for the team. But as soon as Wilson joined the club on a one-year contract this week, it was unclear whether Pickett would still have a chance to open 2024 as the top signal-caller. Wilson said Friday in his introductory press conference that he reached out to Pickett to encourage the young quarterback, but now they are teammates no more.

Pickett had initially accepted the possibility of a competition for the No. 1 job, according to Sports Illustrated, but seemingly changed his tone after Wilson’s arrival. His “poor handling” of the situation had a hand in the Steelers’ decision to deal him, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Drafted No. 20 overall out of Pittsburgh, making him the highest-drafted Steelers quarterback since longtime starter Ben Roethlisberger, Pickett went 14-10 over two mercurial seasons under center. While he led several late-game comebacks, proving resilient amid offensive staffing changes, he also totaled just 13 touchdowns in 24 game appearances. Injuries sidelined him multiple times in 2023, and the Steelers later kept him on the sidelines in favor of Mason Rudolph for their lone playoff appearance.

In Philadelphia, Pickett is set to serve as Jalen Hurts’ new backup, joining the NFL team he grew up following. A New Jersey native, he’ll replace veteran Marcus Mariota, who departed the Eagles to sign with the Washington Commanders in free agency.

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