Steelers’ Mike Tomlin Breaks Silence on Kenny Pickett’s Departure

Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers answered plenty of questions on quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Justin Fields during the first two days of the annual league meeting in Orlando, Florida. But before discussing those new signal callers, Tomlin put to rest, from his viewpoint, what happened between the Steelers and former team quarterback Kenny Pickett.

Mike Tomlin Kenny Pickett

Tomlin confirmed Pickett wanted to leave Pittsburgh.

“From his perspective, he felt like a change of scenery would be a good thing,” Tomlin told reporters, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “Obviously when we felt the trajectory of the business with Chicago moving in the right direction, those dominoes started falling.”

Tomlin also bid farewell to the former first-round quarterback and wished him well.

“I won’t get into the specifics about our conversations, but I am appreciative of his efforts during his time in Pittsburgh, and I wish him nothing but the absolute best in Philadelphia.”

The Steelers traded Pickett and the No. 120 overall pick this year to the Philadelphia Eagles on March 15. In exchange, the Steelers received the No. 98 overall in 2024 and two seventh-round picks next year.

That trade happened less than five days after Wilson agreed to a contract with the Steelers.

The day after trading Pickett, the Steelers acquired Fields from the Chicago Bears for a conditional sixth-round pick.

Kenny Pickett ‘Wanted Change of Scenery’

Tomlin didn’t provide many details about Pickett’s departure. But Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote that Tomlin told Pickett on March 9 that if the team landed Wilson in free agency, “there’d be an open competition” at quarterback.

Breer reported Pickett “was fine with that.” But then a day after Wilson agreed to his contract, Tomlin told Pickett that Wilson would receive first-team repetitions at OTAs with a competition starting after that.

At that point, Pickett wanted no part of continuing his career with the Steelers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac reported that Pickett canceled a workout with teammates the day he found out Wilson would work with the first-team offense at OTAs.

“I just thought it was time,” Pickett said during his introductory press conference with the Eagles, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It just felt like it was time from the things that transpired. Wanted to get a chance to go somewhere else and continue to grow my career.”

Pickett has faced strong criticism since he requested a fresh start. But the 25-year-old suggested he didn’t have any regrets.

“I think the communication is what it is,” Pickett said. “It was behind closed doors. I’m confident with the way I handled it.

“I handled it the way I should have handled it.”

Pickett’s Distrust in Mike Tomlin May Stem From Week 17 Incident

It’s probably hard for an outsider to justify Pickett’s desire for a fresh start. Wilson receiving first-team repetitions in the spring doesn’t seem like a big deal.

But this may not have been the first time Tomlin told Pickett one thing and then changed the plan.

In Week 17 last season, Pickett expected to either start or not play at all against the Seattle Seahawks. At the time, he was recovering from tightrope ankle surgery.

But DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Dejan Kovacevic reported on March 15 (prior to Pickett’s trade) that when Pickett arrived in Seattle, his equipment was in his locker as if he was going to play.

“Questions were asked among all three quarterbacks before Pickett asked for a meeting with Tomlin for clarification,” Kovacevic wrote. “That took place without incident and it resulted in Tomlin, almost immediately, flatly declaring that Trubisky would suit up and Pickett wouldn’t.”

The day after the game,’s Mark Madden reported Pickett “100 percent refused” to serve as Pittsburgh’s backup quarterback in Week 17. Pickett adamantly denied that report. But he didn’t flat-out deny a later report that he refused to be the team’s emergency third-string signal caller versus Seattle.

That coupled with the new OTAs plan may have broke Pickett’s trust in Tomlin.

Related Posts

Mike McCarthy discusses what he expects from Ezekiel Elliott

UDFA QB John Rhys Plumlee Reveals Why He Chose Steelers

With John Rhys Plumlee seeing action at wide receiver at UCF, there was speculation that he could play wide receiver in the NFL, but he put that…

Zach Frazier explains wearing No. 54 with Pittsburgh Steelers

Zach Frazier can’t help his toughness. It’s embedded in his soul. The Steelers rookie loved Pittsburgh’s physical style of play when he was growing up in West Virginia….

Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Strikes Down Scrutiny Facing Rookie J.J. McCarthy

Thіѕ ѕtаɡe of the NFL offѕeаѕon іѕ fіlled wіth hіɡhlіɡhtѕ аnd lowlіɡhtѕ of pаdleѕѕ prаctіceѕ — whіch Mіnneѕotа Vіkіnɡѕ coаch Kevіn O’Connell аrɡued to not reаd too…

Justin Simmons has 1 classy request to fans about Broncos rookie

The Denver Broncoѕ hаve ɡotten themѕelveѕ іnto а trіcky cаp ѕіtuаtіon. Denver trаded ѕіɡnіfіcаnt аѕѕetѕ for QB Ruѕѕell Wіlѕon from the Seаttle Seаhаwkѕ two yeаrѕ аɡo. The…

Coveted Free Agent Receiver Turned Down Kansas City Chiefs

Zаy Joneѕ ѕіɡned wіth the Arіzonа Cаrdіnаlѕ on Frіdаy, but before joіnіnɡ the Cаrdіnаlѕ on а one-yeаr deаl, he hаd drаwn іntereѕt from the Kаnѕаѕ Cіty Chіefѕ….