Steelers To Trade Kenny Pickett To Eagles

So much for Russell Wilson needing to compete for the Steelers’ starting job. Hours after the Steelers announced the Wilson signing, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports they are preparing to trade Kenny Pickett to the Eagles.

The Steelers will indeed send Pickett to the Eagles in a pick-swap trade, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Two years remain on the former first-rounder’s contract. Pickett will be set to back up Jalen Hurts in Philly. Here is how the trade will break down:

Eagles receive:

Steelers receive:

  • 2024 No. 98 overall pick
  • Eagles’ two highest 2025 seventh-round choices

Demoted for Mason Rudolph late last season, Pickett wanted to move on. While competition was reported initially,’s Ian Rapoport indicates the behind-closed-doors understanding upon the Steelers signing Wilson pointed to the former Pro Bowler being the starter and Pickett staying at QB2. Pickett, then, preferred a fresh start, Schefter adds.

This development may not have been the team’s plan when the offseason began. Mike Tomlin had said Pickett would be given the QB1 job but that he would need to earn it by winning a competition. The Steelers did not observe Pickett handle the Wilson news well, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac. After indicating he was fine competing for the job, Pickett soured on the situation once the Wilson signing became imminent,’s Albert Breer tweets.

Following Pickett’s disappointment when the team kept Rudolph in the lineup late last year — a stretch that featured Pickett, per Dulac, refusing to dress as the emergency third QB in Week 17 — the team is moving on. Pickett had made it clear to teammates he thought he was the better option to close last season, via ESPN’s Kimberley Martin. Some in the building, however, believed Rudolph was the better option for 2024. In fairness to Pickett, veteran reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala indicates the Steelers reneged on their pledge that he would compete for the job upon informing him Wilson would take over.

Famous for his “volunteers, not hostages” M.O., Tomlin will sign off on this early separation. Rudolph has since signed with the Titans, putting the Steelers in the market for a backup QB once again. They released Mitch Trubisky earlier this year; he has since returned to the Bills.

A New Jersey native, Pickett grew up an Eagles fan. He then became quite familiar with the Steelers while playing at Pitt. The Steelers chose Pickett 20th overall in 2022, naming him as Ben Roethlisberger‘s heir apparent. But Pickett has not shown much to indicate he could fill those shoes. He will now join Sam Howell and Desmond Ridder as 2022 draftees (and primary 2023 starters) traded over the past two days. The 2022 draft class received low marks at the time; other than Brock Purdy, the early returns have not been good.

Due to signing bonus proration, the Steelers will eat more than $8MM in dead money on this trade. Of course, they are set to pay their new starter the veteran minimum as the Broncos pick up the tab. Wilson alluded to a potential competition at his morning presser Friday, but it is probably clear he was informed that would not happen. Two years remain on Pickett’s rookie contract; the Eagles will have the 25-year-old passer tied to $985K and $2.6MM base salaries.

Pickett ranked 27th in QBR last season and 20th in 2022. The ’22 placement came well ahead of Wilson, who submitted a stunningly woeful season alongside Nathaniel Hackett in his Denver debut. Wilson improved under Sean Payton, but the Broncos still bailed — after some back-and-forth drama — before the veteran’s 2025 salary could become guaranteed this month. The Steelers have largely used homegrown rookies at quarterback this century, going from Roethlisberger to Pickett. While Kordell Stewart held the reins for much of the previous decade, the team did use free agent pickup Tommy Maddox in what became a stopgap capacity ahead of Roethlisberger’s near-two-decade-long tenure.

Wilson, 35, will be set to operate in a bridge capacity as well. Though, it should not be expected the Steelers use a high draft choice to add an heir apparent this year. Despite Wilson’s step back in Denver — one that could potentially threaten his Hall of Fame status — Pittsburgh is set to give him the keys. Dulac adds this is the quickest the Steelers have jettisoned a first-round pick since releasing 1996 Round 1 tackle Jamain Stephens following his second season.

On Feb. 29, GM Omar Khan said he had full faith in Pickett. While he cited competition as important for the would-be third-year starter, a recent report also indicated a meeting between the QB and new OC Arthur Smith went well. But the Wilson news emerged soon after. While Wilson has not shown much of his Seahawks form since the 2022 blockbuster trade, Pickett winning a potential competition seemed unrealistic. There will now be no competition involving Pickett this year, as Hurts is entrenched as the Eagles’ starter.

Pickett has thrown just 13 touchdown passes in 25 games, starting 24 of those. Although the Steelers rolled out a poor offense for most of Pickett’s tenure, he showed some promise late in his rookie season. But 2022’s top QB pick did not build on that form last season. This led to OC Matt Canada being fired. This preceded a Pickett ankle injury that required surgery. The 6-foot-3 passer will carry just a 6.3 yards-per-attempt figure to Philly, which did not re-sign Marcus Mariota this offseason.

View Comments (165)