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Eagles Trade for Steelers QB Kenny Pickett Makes Sense for One Big Reason

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman did his homework when former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett entered the draft, but there's one main reason this deal made sense to him.
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PHILADELPHIA – Howie Roseman did his homework on Kenny Pickett leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Philadelphia Eagles general manager was finally able to turn in that assignment on Friday when, in a somewhat shocking move, he acquired the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round draft pick from just two years ago.

So much for that veteran backup most believed the Eagles and Roseman wanted, a stance that seemed accurate since Roseman offered a contract to Joe Flacco before signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Instead, the Eagles added Pickett, who will turn 26 in June and was the 20th overall selection two years ago. And so much for Justin Fields, who some believed Roseman would try to acquire from the Chicago Bears.

Pickett clearly wanted out of Pittsburgh after the Steelers signed Russell Wilson, 35, to a one-year contract. Perhaps he wanted out even as early as last season when he was ready to return from an injury, but the Steelers kept starting Mason Rudolph.

The Eagles landed Pickett by sending the Steelers a third-round compensatory pick in this year’s draft (98 overall, which was the pick the Eagles got when Javon Hargrave signed with the San Francisco 49ers) and the highest of their two seventh-round picks in 2025. In addition to Pickett, Pittsburgh will send the Eagles a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft, No. 120 overall.

Kenny Pickett at 2022 NFL Combine

Kenny Pickett


To make sense of this deal, look no further than the money trail.

With Jalen Hurts signed through 2028, at which time he will turn 30, to the tune of $255 million, it was easy to see why Roseman jumped at the chance to have some cost efficiency at the position and doing so by moving down just 22 spots in the next month’s draft.

Look at the 2024 salary cap charges of the Eagles' three QBs:

Hurts: $13.5M

Pickett: $1.9M

McKee: $961,000

That's for three quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, Dak Prescott is eating $59.4M of the Cowboys' cap and Daniel Jones is consuming $47.1 of the New York Giants' cap.

Pickett, who is two months older than Hurts, has salaries of $1.99M this year and $2.6M in 2025.

The Eagles also have quarterback Tanner McKee, their sixth-round pick from last year who impressed in the preseason. McKee is signed through 2026 when his salary will be at its highest point - $1.14M with a salary cap charge of $1.91M.

Veteran backups tend to cost more. Marcus Mariota, for example, worked on a one-year, $5M deal in Philly last year and has moved on to the Washington Commanders for one year at $6M that could grow to $10M.

The risk is that Pickett and McKee are relatively inexperienced backups to Jalen Hurts.

Pickett was expected to take a big jump from Year 1 to Year 2 last year but played in just 12 games and threw six touchdowns to four interceptions. He will now compete with McKee to be QB2.


Roseman liked Pickett plenty when he began keeping tabs on him from the Senior Bowl to a Thursday night game that he attended at the University of Pittsburgh, in a famous photo that made the social media rounds of him watching closely through an oversized pair of binoculars.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman became smitten with Pitt QB Kenny Pickett during the 2022 predraft process, even traveling to a Thursday night game in Pittsburgh to get a closer look.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman became smitten with Pitt QB Kenny Pickett during the 2022 predraft process, even traveling to a Thursday night game in Pittsburgh to get a closer look.

Pickett is also from Ocean Township, N.J., who changed his mind about attending Temple to going to Pitt.

He started 24 games in his first two seasons with the Steelers, completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 4,474 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions during his young career.

His presence should not threaten Hurts in any way, unlike how Hurts made Carson Wentz nervous after the Eagles spent a second-round pick on Hurts in 2020.

Some believe Pickett did not want to compete for his starting job with Wilson. CBS' Aditi Kinkhabwala said on X that isn’t true. 

She indicated that Pickett is not running away from competition. He was explicitly told by the Steelers that Wilson would start and that there would be no competition.

Kinkhabwala continued that the Steelers reneged on the pledge they had given Pickett that, after two years of chaos, he’d finally be put in a position to succeed.

The Steelers countered with longtime Steelers beat writer Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporting that Pickett poorly handled Wilson's arrival. Pittsburgh also wasn't pleased with Pickett's behavior last year when he refused to dress as the emergency third quarterback in Week 17's game in Seattle.

Roseman, meanwhile, privately told those close to him during the draft process two years ago that he believed Pickett could be the next Justin Herbert. 

That hasn’t happened and certainly looks like it never will, not with him about to spend the next two years likely wearing a baseball hat on the sidelines while Hurts keeps his grip on the top spot.