The Pittsburgh Steelers interviewed several candidates multiple times for the general manager position that was vacated last offseason with Kevin Colbert stepping down. Omar Khan ultimately filled the position, but Andy Weidl clearly finished as the runner-up, as they created the new position of assistant general manager to bring him on board.
Khan had a decades-long head start in the organization, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the new piece might bear the most striking contrast to how things have been done in the past, but there’s no doubt that the Steelers’ approach to this offseason so far has been taking shape in a way that might have been anticipated under Weidl.
The reputation that precedes him is as a talent evaluator that places a priority on the trenches. As a former offensive lineman himself, that’s not a great surprise. They’ve now reportedly added two offensive linemen in free agency—and he worked with both of them while he was in the Philadelphia Eagles’ front office.
The first to sign was Nate Herbig, a former college free agent out of Stanford who spent his first three seasons in Philadelphia, making 17 starts in 33 games. He moved on to the New York Jets last season where he started all 11 games in which he played before getting hurt.
When first signed to a two-year, $8 million deal, he was expected to compete with Kevin Dotson for the left guard job. But it was reported last night that the Steelers are also signing Isaac Seumalo to a three-year deal, the terms of which have not been disclosed as of the time of this writing.
There’s no question that Seumalo is a starter. He has started every game in which he has played over the past four years, including all 17 games last season for the Eagles. A former third-round pick out of Oregon St., he was regarded as one of the top interior offensive linemen in this free agent class—and he just makes the under-30 cut, still 29 until October.
Not only are both linemen from Weidl’s time in Philadelphia, they are also both hard-nosed people movers who are passionate about football and embrace the physicality that comes with the position. This seems to be the direction the Steelers want to head in with their offensive line after years of focusing more on finesse and athleticism.
That’s not solely due to Weidl’s influence, to be sure, even if it doesn’t hurt. The Steelers have a young new quarterback to protect, one who suffered two concussions as a rookie last year. They already knew that the offensive line was under construction and that the work wasn’t done—it still isn’t, but any other starter at this point would come through the draft.
And while the direct connections are obviously to Weidl, Khan is to be given credit for making the necessary moves and strengthening a key position on the roster that has seen a lot of turnover in recent years. they knew they wouldn’t get it all done in one offseason, but through free agency the past two years, they’ve been able to take a welcome shortcut.