The news broke late Tuesday night that the Steelers new general manager will be current Vice President of business administration Omar Khan. https://twitter.com/akinkhabwala/status/1529271862643019776?s=21 This has come as quite a surprise as most considered Khan the least likely of the final six candidates. Also reported last night Pittsburgh will hire Andy Weidl as their new assistant GM. He has been brought in to apparently help Khan in the scouting department.
All this brings with it many questions. The knock on Omar Khan has always been the fact he has virtually no experience in the scouting side of NFL front office duties. His strengths lie in the contract negotiation, and salary cap management. This seems to be the main reason why Khan has been unable to land another general manager job in the past. He has been on as many as eight interviews for that position over the last ten years. All of which ending with him returning to Pittsburgh empty handed. We assume the hiring of Andy Weidl was designed to help with his deficiencies in that area. That in itself sets up even more questions however.
Not having a general manager with a strong scouting background opens up many power struggle possibilities. You can easily see where Andy Weidl and Mike Tomlin might clash on player selection. Khan breaking ties between these two could set the stage for resentment. Particularly when the man in charge will not have the respect of the other two when it comes to scouting players. This could work seamlessly with each person serving their role, but human nature being what it is friction will inevitably develop.
That brings us to the next question, where does Mike Tomlin fit into the decision making hierarchy? He already held a great deal of sway in picking players even with the firmly entrenched Kevin Colbert as general manager. Tomlin is primed to take an even bigger role in front office decisions with the Steelers new general manager being so lacking in scouting experience. We have seen in the past that a head coach with too much on his plate generally doesn’t end well. Unfortunately, there is no one currently in this front office with the credibility to tell Tomlin no on key decisions. Mike Tomlin is the most powerful figure short of Art Rooney, whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen.
At the end of the day, replacing a legend like Kevin Colbert was never going to be an easy task. Colbert’s list of achievements will be extremely hard to match by anyone. Kevin Colbert’s top ten moves as general manager of the Steelers
What the Steelers have done with the hiring of Omar Khan is open themselves up to some possible instability. That is something this franchise is completely unfamiliar with. There is always a chance everything goes smoothly, and this becomes a seamless transition. It’s much more likely there will be some bumps in the road. For a franchise going through a major transition, this is not ideal.