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Steelers reportedly wanted Russell Wilson to help Kenny Pickett, now ‘trying to win a Super Bowl this year’

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The Pittsburgh Steelers overhauled their quarterback spot this offseason, adding Russell Wilson and Justin Fields while dealing Kenny Pickett. But their initial plan was for Wilson to spark Pickett’s growth, according to ESPN. With that plan out the window? The Steelers’ focus, in supporting Wilson and adding Fields, is apparently to go for broke in 2024.

“If you would’ve told me a month ago … that we’d be sitting here a month later, and that Russell Wilson and Justin Fields would be our quarterbacks?” general manager Omar Khan told ESPN. “Yeah, I’d be a little bit surprised. (But we’re) trying to win a Super Bowl this year. Those decisions were made with the intent that they could help us this year.”

It’s an uncharacteristically urgent approach from a franchise that’s long operated with patience, as evidenced by head coach Mike Tomlin’s long tenure atop the staff. At the start of the offseason, patience appeared to remain a priority, with ESPN reporting new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith “hit it off” in a personal visit with Pickett, the team’s 2022 first-round draft pick. This was one example of the Steelers’ apparent internal effort to keep Pickett in the quarterback mix moving forward, despite mercurial results from the young signal-caller in two injury-riddled seasons under center.

Once Wilson was released by the Denver Broncos, the Steelers believed adding the veteran could be “a benefit to Kenny,” per ESPN, and “kick (Pickett) into gear,” even communicating to the former first-rounder plans for an “open competition.” But Pickett perceived Wilson’s arrival as the Steelers “going back on their initial plan” to give him first-team reps this offseason. So he reportedly quickly declared he’d prefer a fresh start to a competition for a backup job, and by the time the NFL’s free agent negotiating period opened March 11, other teams were clued into his availability.

Pickett was eventually traded to the Philadelphia Eagles to serve as Jalen Hurts‘ No. 2. And it wasn’t until after his expressed discontent did the Steelers begin trade talks with the Chicago Bears for Fields, according to ESPN. Wilson, meanwhile, reportedly didn’t ask for any assurances about the starting quarterback job, though Tomlin has since said he’s internally declared the longtime Seattle Seahawks star in “pole position” for the 2024 job.

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