In a recent tweet by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, Kevin Colbert was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Carolina Panthers job of VP of football operations. Breer points out the fact that Colbert, and Panthers owner David Tepper are familiar with each other from Tepper’s days as a minority owner with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The new Panthers owner has already begun blowing things up in Carolina by firing long time coach Ron Rivera. It’s not a stretch to think he would want an established, successful GM like Colbert to help rebuild things in Carolina.
What leads any speculation about Colbert is the fact that he decided against signing an extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season. Many had thought that at 62 years old, the Steelers general manager was taking it year by year before riding off into the sunset. The opposite may in fact be true here. Could Colbert instead have been looking to keep his options open for 2020? Whatever the motives, his actions lately do not look like those of a man in it for the long haul in Pittsburgh. The biggest clue of all was that for the first time in his tenure with the Steelers, Colbert traded away his first round pick. Opting for the quick fix, rather than drafting and developing goes against everything he had previously stood for. There were several other “out of character” moves this off-season. Trading several assets to move up and get Devin Bush, or signing the richest free agent contract in Steven Nelson are other examples. All these are great moves in a vacuum, but not are ones made by a general manager with an eye on the long term.
The fact that Kevin Colbert will not be under contract after the 2019 season will continue to produce more and more speculation. With high profile general manger jobs with the Giants, Redskins and Texans rumored to be available next season, the chatter will only grow louder. Steelers owner Art Rooney III better have a contingency plan in place for his general manager’s job. Because whether through retirement, or joining another team, Kevin Colbert appears on his way out of Pittsburgh after this season.