Steelers rumors: Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert could depart in 2021

By Matt Johnson
Dec 2, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the team logo at mid-field before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have surpassed expectations this season, overcoming a myriad of injuries on defense and a declining offense to become one of the NFL’s best teams. As Pittsburgh competes for a Super Bowl this season, though, big changes could come in the offseason.

Under general manager Kevin Colbert, the Steelers have maintained their status as an upper-echelon team for years. With the club in win-now mode and a contention window potentially starting to close, Colbert’s days in Pittsburgh could be numbered.

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Steelers rumors: Could general manager Kevin Colbert depart in 2021

For the past two seasons, general manager Kevin Colbert has signed one-year contract extensions with the Steelers. It allowed them to retain the Pittsburgh native and one of the top executives on football another year, while Colbert had the flexibility of working on a short-term contract.

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Colbert became the Steelers’ first general manager in 2011. He started his career with the team in 2000, serving as the director of football operations. After 11 seasons in that role, he became the first executive in team history to carry the GM title. But, there might now be a chance he doesn’t hold that role for much longer.

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According to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones, there is speculation around the NFL that change could come in Pittsburgh this offseason. Everyone is keenly aware of Colbert’s contract situation and some wonder if he won’t return to the Steelers next season.

“One wild card — and a vacancy that would shoot to the top of anyone’s rankings — is Pittsburgh. Long-time GM Kevin Colbert has been operating on one-year deals for the last two years,” CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones wrote. “I’m not reporting that he definitely will or won’t stay or go, just simply that people around the league are keeping an eye on what may happen in Pittsburgh once its season is complete.”

If Colbert were to become available, he would immediately become the most coveted candidate for every general manager vacancy. With that said, there would likely already be a favorite for his services.

The Carolina Panthers could look to replace Marty Hurney this offseason, with the final decision being made by team owner David Tepper. It’s worth noting, Tepper used to own a stake in the Steelers and has reportedly desired Colbert as his general manager.

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Colbert could always remain in Pittsburgh, staying with his hometown team and taking on the challenge of building around a new quarterback. As the one-year deals show, however, he is giving himself options to evaluate every offseason. Given the appeal that would come with being Carolina’s general manager, a move is possible.

If Colbert leaves the Steelers, Pittsburgh’s opening would immediately become the most-sought after by candidates. The Rooney family is among the most beloved ownership groups in sports. Becoming the general manager of one of the NFL’s most popular teams, without the headaches caused from an intrusive owner, would make this the dream scenario for any general manager.

The Steelers might already know which direction Colbert is leaning this offseason. For now, they remained focused on turning things around following consecutive losses.