Why Did Kenny Pickett Seek to Distance Himself from the Steelers and Russell Wilson?

Steelers' QB shuffle sends Pickett to Eagles, Wilson steps up.

by Nouman Rasool
Why Did Kenny Pickett Seek to Distance Himself from the Steelers and Russell Wilson?
© Sarah Stier/Getty Images

In a surprising move that has captured the attention of the NFL community, ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing Brooke Pryor, announced on Friday that the Pittsburgh Steelers are sending quarterback Kenny Pickett, their first-round draft pick from 2022, to the Philadelphia Eagles.

This decision comes in the wake of Pickett expressing a desire to move on, particularly after Russell Wilson's team-oriented contract negotiation led him to join the Steelers, altering the dynamics within the team. The crux of the situation emerged earlier this week with reports suggesting a competitive atmosphere was brewing in Pittsburgh, where Wilson would have to prove his mettle against Pickett to secure the starting position.

However, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, referencing Nick Shook, revealed a shift in the Steelers' stance by Friday, indicating a preference for Wilson as the starting quarterback, sidelining the prospect of a preseason competition with Pickett.

This strategic move evidently paved the way for Pickett's trade, with Pryor highlighting the team's leaning towards Wilson as the de facto starting quarterback, thus sidelining Pickett from the equation.

Pickett's Move, Wilson's Lead

Although Pickett now steps into a backup role behind Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia, his departure from Pittsburgh clearly positions Wilson at the helm as the Steelers' primary quarterback as they head into training camp.

Wilson, addressing the media for the first time since joining the Steelers, shared insights into his communication with Pickett post-decision, emphasizing a collaborative spirit aimed at enhancing team performance, a sentiment he conveyed prior to the trade revelation.

The narrative surrounding Pickett's tenure with the Steelers and his subsequent move paints a complex picture of professional relationships and career trajectories within the NFL. Pickett, who began as Pittsburgh's starting quarterback last September, encountered challenges, including an ankle injury and competition from Mason Rudolph, which ultimately saw him sidelined.

His discontent became apparent, particularly with decisions surrounding starting positions, leading to denials of refusing to play in critical games. This scenario underscores the fluctuating dynamics and competitive tensions inherent in professional sports, marking a significant career transition for Pickett as he embraces his new role with the Eagles.

This development not only signals a new chapter for Pickett but also for the Steelers, who are reportedly exploring options to rejuvenate their quarterback lineup, with eyes possibly set on Chicago Bears' Justin Fields. This move, speculated amidst strategic considerations for the upcoming draft, reflects the ongoing strategic adjustments and player mobility shaping the landscape of the NFL.

Steelers Russell Wilson Eagles