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So far, Omar Khan has been nothing but a transactional GM for the Steelers

Do you think Omar Khan, the Steelers’ second-year general manager, has one of those gold jackets with “Future H.O.F” on the back, a la Chad Johnson? 

Do you think Khan throws that pseudo-Hall of Fame blazer on every time he makes a transaction? He might do that if he goes on social media after putting the finishing touches on yet another trade/cut/draft pick/free-agent signing.

Social media has a way of propping a person up. Social media also has a way of knocking a person down. When I refer to social media, I’m basically talking about society, and society has been propping up and knocking down public figures since forever. Unfortunately, humanity now has a much bigger platform in which to do its propping and knocking, thanks to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, etc.

According to social media/society (Steelers fans), Kevin Colbert, Pittsburgh’s general manager between 2000-2022 (de facto and then officially), was just really bad at his job. At least Colbert was at the end, when his draft classes, trades and free-agent acquisitions just didn’t hit (“hit” is slang that all of the cool kids—maybe even young NFL general managers—are using these days).

For example, receiver Diontae Johnson is the last remaining member of the Steelers 2019 draft class. That became official on Tuesday when tight end Zach Gentry, a fifth-round pick out of Michigan four years ago, was cut in an effort to get down to the mandatory 53-man roster ahead of the start of the 2023 campaign. There are now only two players remaining from Pittsburgh’s 2020 draft class—Alex Highsmith and Anthony McFarland Jr. That became a reality on Sunday when Khan sent guard Kevin Dotson, a fourth-round pick from that class, to the Los Angeles Rams. In addition to Dotson, the Steelers also sent Los Angeles their 2024 fifth-round pick and their 2025 sixth-round pick. As for the Steelers? They got the Rams’ 2024 fourth-round pick and their 2025 fifth-round pick.

Holy cow! Reading that in my own typing makes me realize the heist Khan pulled off in dealing Dotson, a player who had fallen out of favor in Pittsburgh, to a desperate Rams team while also improving Pittsburgh’s future draft stock in the process.

Omar comin, Yo!

Khan, who fully took over for Colbert following the 2022 NFL Draft, truly began to make a name for himself last November when he somehow managed to extract a 2023 second-round pick from the Bears in exchange for the services of receiver Chase Claypool, a second-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.

With the help of the tanking Bears, Pittsburgh parlayed that mid-season trade into the 32nd pick of the 2023 NFL Draft and used it to select Joey Porter Jr., a highly-touted cornerback from Penn State.

Speaking of the most recent NFL Draft, it may be the most successful in franchise history (according to social media and recency bias, anyway). Khan, whose Steelers were slated to pick 17th in the first round, managed to pry the 14th selection from the Patriots in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round pick. Khan used the selection to draft Broderick Jones, the big, athletic left tackle from Georgia.

Yeah, but what about that fourth-round pick? No worries. In the shrewdest of moves, Khan made amends by trading 13 spots back in the third round and acquiring the Panthers’ own third-round pick (93rd, overall) and their fourth-round pick (132nd, overall).

Despite losing 13 spots, the Steelers were still able to draft tight end Darnell Washington from Georgia. And with the fourth-round pick, Pittsburgh selected Nick Herbig, an outside linebacker who was the talk of the just-concluded preseason.

KHAAAAAAN!!!!!!

Just how good has Khan been? So good, that he managed to convince the Houston Texans to give him a 2025 sixth-round pick in a trade for Kendrick Green, a nothing of a third-round selection from Colbert’s 2021 NFL Draft.

And, finally, Khan signed Desmond King, who the Texans cut, to be the new Cam Sutton—but at a cheaper price.

The Khan Artist!

It seems like everything Khan has touched has turned to gold during his short time as the Steelers’ general manager. Every move he’s made has been praised—who can forget about the offseason signings of guard Isaac Seumalo and outside linebacker Markus Golden?

Can you remember the last time a Steelers general manager was so popular with the fans?

Yeah, just two summers ago, when Colbert was dubbed “The General Manager.” It was a play on The Godfather, and I believe there were even t-shirts (at least in meme form).

Colbert earned a lot of love, thanks to his summer moves that included the signings of Trai Turner and Melvin Ingram. Turner filled the void at right guard following the release of David DeCastro. Ingram provided veteran depth at outside linebacker.

Colbert cemented his “The General Manager” status just prior to the 2021 regular season by trading for Joe Schobert, a veteran inside linebacker, and Ahkello Witherspoon, a veteran cornerback.

How did those “The General Manager” moves work out for Colbert?

They didn’t.

Neither did the bold decision to move up to the 10th spot to select inside linebacker Devin Bush in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Your hindsight mind might be saying otherwise, right now, but I remember the excitement that accompanied the drafting of Bush. I was at a bar that night when word spread that Pittsburgh had made a trade, and the place erupted in cheers when Mean Joe Greene stepped to the podium to announce the selection.

There were a lot of moves that simply did not work out for Colbert in his later years, but there were also some that did.

There were also a lot of moves that did and did not work out for Colbert during his first decade with the Steelers. We just don’t remember the ones that didn’t work because Pittsburgh was busy making it to three Super Bowls and bringing home two Lombardi trophies during that time.

You can say what you want about Colbert’s career, but some of his moves ultimately resulted in adding two more Lombardis to that trophy case at the Steelers’ headquarters. Colbert got emotional when talking about being a part of the organization’s championship legacy during his final press conference following the 2022 NFL Draft.

Success is what every NFL general manager is judged on.

So far, all we know about Khan is that he’s a more modern-thinking football executive who has made some shrewd transactions. You might say, “Well, that’s all every general manager does is make transactions.” True, but those transactions must eventually translate to success on the football field. If not, the transactional skills of that general manager will come into question.

Just ask Kevin Colbert.

The sports world is a cruel business. People often quickly move on from legends, and they like to dance on their graves while celebrating their successors.

Heck, sometimes, those legends aren’t even gone yet. I remember when Steelers fans booed Franco Harris at Three Rivers Stadium in the early ’80s because they wanted Sidney Thornton to be the new starting running back.

I remember when fans booed Jerome Bettis at Heinz Field in 2004 because they thought he was stealing touchdown opportunities from Duce Staley.

One thing we must remember about both Thornton and Staley is that neither had careers nearly as successful as the people fans wanted them to succeed.

Harris and Bettis are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Their gold jackets are authentic.

We might see Colbert, a Pittsburgh native, put on one of those jackets in the not-so-distant future before giving an emotional speech about a truly successful and satisfying career in his hometown.

Bill Parcells, a legendary head coach who also liked to play general manager, once said, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”

“Omar is cooking!” is another cool thing the kids have been saying about Khan this offseason. But while Parcells got to actually cook some of the groceries that he bought, most general managers only do the shopping.

Omar Khan has done some newsworthy shopping since taking over as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but we won’t know how good of a consumer he is until many of his groceries are cooked and then served to the fans.

In the meantime, we’ve saved all of the receipts.

Again, just ask Kevin Colbert.

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