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What this offseason has taught Steelers fans about players

Before you ready any further, I want you to do me a favor.

Take a look at the image attached to this article.

What do you see? You see a throng of fans awaiting the autograph of one Kenny Pickett.

Remember this scene from Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA this past summer? Pickett was entering Year 2, and coming off a stellar finish of his rookie season. Winners of 7 of their last 9 games, and 4 in a row to just miss out on the postseason. Pickett was a hot commodity at he earned himself sponsorships locally, and was a frequent guest on big-name podcasts talking all about how he can take the Steelers to the promised land.

Fast forward to March of 2024, and do you think you’d see the same throng of fans awaiting an autograph from the former Pitt product? I’m sure there would be some, but the shine certainly wore off quickly with the team’s first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

My goal here is not to belabor the discussion on Pickett. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am actually sick of discussing Pickett’s time in Pittsburgh, and even the trade compensation the team received when they sent him to Philadelphia for a pick swap. However, it does serve as a reminder of just how uncertain prospects are when they come to a new team. Doesn’t matter if it’s in free agency, or the NFL Draft, nothing in the NFL is a certainty.

For a second, just think about all the past free agents who have come to the Steelers with the fan base absolutely brimming with excitement. How this particular player was going to take them to the next level. Yet what did we get? The NFL’s version of a lemon. I don’t have to start listing the players who have fallen into the “disappointment” category when talking about free agents…we all know the names.

The same can be said about the NFL Draft. Players are selected and immediately expected to exceed expectations and immediately become the difference maker the team so desperately needs at their particular position. Yet that isn’t always the case.

We are fans, and that is something which is difficult. We can question the process and the players who are acquired, but we always seem to see things from the glass-half-full approach. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but it is also important to realize how a great majority of players don’t pan out in the league. This uber competitive league which has been known to chew up and spit out even the toughest of players on a yearly basis.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

As Kevin Tate, Shawn Gurley (Big G), and Shannon White say on their Wednesday night podcast, “Pump Your Brakes”.

With the Steelers flurry of activity the past seven days, it’s easy to fall in love with the moves that were made, but we’ve seen first-hand how not all of these moves pan out. Taking a wait-and-see approach might be what the doctor ordered for the Russell Wilson/Justin Fields experiment. Same can be said with Patrick Queen at ILB.

The Steelers have been active, and more moves will be coming, but if 2023, and this offseason, has taught us anything, it’s to not jump head first into the deep end on these prospects. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. After all, someone once said the NFL stands for Not For Long…and that was Jerry Glanville for those who don’t know.


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