Perhaps it’s somewhat unfair to Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan that so much time has been spent discussing his assistant, Andy Weidl. But the reality is that Weidl is the new guy. Khan has spent decades in the organization already, so we know a lot more about him. As humans, we want to know about what we don’t know.
Whether valid or not, many have the impression that Weidl being hired as assistant general manager has a greater potential to alter the Steelers’ traditional patterns than does Khan succeeding Kevin Colbert as general manager, with whom he worked for over two decades.
So what is Weidl’s reputation? Well, we’ve discussed that in a variety of ways a number of times already. One quote that recently stuck out, however, came from Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta. He spent a decade working with Weidl in Baltimore, so he knows him well.
When The Athletic’s Mike DeFabo asked him about the impression that he prioritizes building teams through the offensive and defensive lines, DeCosta basically said it was built into his system through his time there.
“We’re all kind of a product of our environment”, he’s quoted as saying. “I’m not going to go to another team, and not believe in the importance of offensive and defensive linemen and big physical, aggressive, tough mean, football players”.
In other words, he’s the same guy no matter where he goes. If he thinks the offensive and defensive lines are important priorities while he’s in Baltimore or Philadelphia, he’s going to feel the same way while he’s in Pittsburgh, too.
And it doesn’t come at a bad time, either. While they are already in the process of retooling their offensive line, they could certainly use some finishing touches. One would figure we are bound to see at least one new starter this offseason.
And the defensive line needs a new paint job, one way or another. Cameron Heyward is getting older even if he’s still playing at a high level. Tyson Alualu may be retiring, if re-signed. Chris Wormley is a free agent and coming off a torn ACL.
The Steelers haven’t drafted an offensive or defensive lineman in the first two rounds since selecting defender Stephon Tuitt in 2014. There are reasons for that—they’ve had quality starters often enough, obtained through other means such as undrafted free agency—but investing in the trenches rarely feels like the wrong move.
On top of that, we have Larry Ogunjobi hitting free agency, and Kevin Dotson is entering the final year of his contract. The time to plan for the future is now. Pittsburgh’s front office has no qualms about investing in the offensive and defensive lines, but if Weidl pushes them ever slightly further in that direction, all the better.