Steelers sign first-round QB Kenny Pickett

·3-min read

Kenny Pickett became the final first-round pick of the 2022 draft to sign his rookie deal after agreeing to a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team announced Thursday morning.

Though Pickett inked his deal last among first-rounders, his signing date is still on-par with most rookies.

All but five of the 2022 first-round picks signed their contracts before June, which is the opposite of what happened in 2021 when more than half waited until after June to agree to deals. Eight of those 2021 picks didn't sign until July, either, including the first three picks of the draft — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance — as well as 15th overall pick Mac Jones.

Signing dates were even later in 2020 when 26 of the 32 first-round picks waited until July to ink their contracts, though that likely had something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, 26 signed in May, six signed in June and six signed in July.

According to Spotrac, Pickett's deal will likely be a fully guaranteed four-year contract worth around $14 million with a $7.4 million signing bonus, and it includes a fifth-year player option for 2026.

Could Pickett start in Pittsburgh?

The Steelers are entering a brave new world under center after 18-year starter Ben Roethlisberger retired following the 2021 season.

Pittsburgh drafted Pickett — the only quarterback picked in the first round — with the 20th overall selection after signing free-agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky earlier in the offseason. There were also a lot of questions about Pickett's hand size during the pre-draft process after he measured in at 8.5 inches — which would be the smallest in the NFL.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told NFL Network after the draft that Pickett would have an opportunity to win the starting job.

"He certainly has a chance [to be our Week 1 starter]," Tomlin said. "I agree with that sentiment of his readiness from a professional perspective."

If Pickett wins the job, he'll have a solid and young supporting cast around him that includes 2021 first-round running back Najee Harris as well as dynamic receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.

Claypool, who recently claimed he was a top-three receiver in the league, praised Pickett earlier this month on the I Am Athlete podcast:

“[Pickett] looks good. He’s mobile,” Claypool said. “He’s faster than people think, so that’s going to be new for us. And I think it’s going to create plays. You see so many of Ja’Marr’s plays and Tee’s plays are from Joe leaving the pocket and making plays happen. And you know, we’re young, we’re versatile, we’re dynamic, so he’s going to add to that.”

Kenny Pickett was the last first-round pick to sign his rookie contract. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kenny Pickett was the last first-round pick to sign his rookie contract. (Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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