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Kenny Pickett addresses the way things fell apart with Steelers

Eagles new backup quarterback Kenny Pickett addresses the end of his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Things got ugly at the end for Kenny Pickett in Pittsburgh, culminating in his trade to the Eagles just two years after the Steelers made him the 20th pick in the draft.

As soon as the Steelers unloaded him on Friday, the smear campaign began in the form of numerous tweets from the west side of the state questioning Pickett’s character.

“Sources” in Pittsburgh said he handled the Russell Wilson signing poorly. They said he refused to serve as the third quarterback for a late-season game against the Seahawks last year. They said he was selfish and not a team guy.

On Monday, Pickett finally had a chance to answer all those allegations, and he stood his ground, saying he handled everything the right way.

“I'm confident in the way that I handled it,” he said at the NovaCare Complex three days after the Eagles acquired him. “I handled it the way I should have handled it. I'm excited to be here. I think everything happens for a reason and, you know, I'm right where I'm supposed to be.” 

Pickett went 14-10 in 24 starts with the Steelers but threw only 13 total TDs in those 24 starts and averaged just 179 yards per game. His 78.8 passer rating over the last two years ranked 22nd of 23 quarterbacks who started at least 20 games – ahead of only Zach Wilson’s 75.4.

The Steelers reportedly assured Pickett after this past season he’d have an opportunity to compete for the starting position in 2024 before the Steelers signed Wilson to a one-year deal and anointed him the 2024 starter.

“I gave everything I had there and loved all my teammates and the coaches that I came across,” Pickett said. “Some absolute great memories that I'll take forever and lifelong friendships. … After it all went down, just grateful that we had the time we had together and wish everyone over there nothing but the best.

“I just thought it was time. I just felt like it was time (with) the things that transpired and wanted to get a chance to go somewhere else and continue to grow my career.”

What about the Steelers’ contention that Pickett refused to suit up as the third quarterback at the end of the 2022 season? 

“There was a plan there for that game,” he said. “It went down exactly the way it was planned to go down that entire week. I was coming off the ankle surgery, so it is what it is and happy to be here.”

Pickett, 25, said he learned a lot from both the good and the bad in Pittsburgh and believes it will all help make him a better player.

“I think you always learn more from the adversities in life and then you know a lot of your success,” he said. “So just going to put my head down and go back to work doing what I love. 

“I love to play the game. I want to get back to having fun. … I already feel like it's a great environment here with this coaching staff and these players. So that's just what I want to get back to. I thought it was time for a fresh start.”

Pickett grew up an Eagles fan in Ocean Township in Central Jersey. That’s normally Giants territory, but he said his dad grew up in Philly and passed his Eagles love down to him.

He said he came to a lot of Eagles games as a kid and named Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins, Brent Celek, Jeremiah Trotter and Jevon Kearse as some of his favorite players.

“I have great memories of my dad taking me here, my grandfather, all my family members coming out to the games,” he said. “I have vivid memories of them running out of the tunnel. Now that I'll be doing that same trot. I'm pretty excited.”

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