Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) scrambles out of the...

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) scrambles out of the pocket with Arizona Cardinals cornerback Kei'Trel Clark (13) defending during the first half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. The Pittsburgh Steelers are trading Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles a person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press on Friday, March 15, 2024. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. Credit: AP/Gene J. Puskar

PITTSBURGH — The brief and tumultuous Kenny Pickett era in Pittsburgh is over.

The Steelers are trading the quarterback to the Philadelphia Eagles, multiple sources told The Associated Press. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not official.

Pittsburgh will receive a third-round pick in this year's NFL draft and two seventh-round choices in the 2025 draft in exchange for Pickett and Pittsburgh's fourth-round pick this year.

The trade comes just hours after the Steelers signed nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson to a one-year deal to compete with Pickett for the starting job, though all signs appeared to be pointing to Wilson having the edge when the team reported for training camp at Saint Vincent College in July.

Wilson declined to say he expected to be the starter when asked during his introductory press conference on Friday and added he and Pickett had connected shortly after Wilson agreed to terms with the team, saying they were both focused on making the Steelers better.

Instead, Wilson now finds himself as the only quarterback on the roster after the club cut Mitch Trubisky and third-stringer Mason Rudolph — who guided the Steelers to the playoffs after Pickett underwent ankle surgery in early December — signed with Tennessee.

Pickett, a first-round pick out of the University of Pittsburgh in 2022, went 14-10 as a starter but struggled to stay healthy and be a difference maker for an offense that languished near the bottom of the league.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin appeared to give Pickett a vote of confidence after the end of the season while allowing that 2024 would be a “huge” year in terms of Pickett's future. General manager Omar Khan doubled down on Pickett at the NFL combine last month, saying the team had “full faith” that Pickett could mesh with new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

Yet a week later the club brought free-agent-to-be Wilson in for a visit and agreed to terms on a one-year deal late Sunday night.

The stunning turn of events by the typically pragmatic Steelers ends a once-promising marriage between Pittsburgh and Pickett, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021 while leading Pitt to its first ACC title.

The Steelers took Pickett 20th overall the following spring and he was thrust into the starting job at halftime of a Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. He didn't put up eye-popping numbers but showed a knack for putting together late rallies, including wins over Baltimore and Oakland late in the 2022 season that offered a glimpse of what Pittsburgh thought he could become.

It never happened. The Steelers were sluggish much of the year and decided to fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada just before Thanksgiving. Pickett looked solid in a promising win over Cincinnati under interim offensive coordiantor Eddie Faulkner and quarterbacks coach/playcaller Mike Sullivan. Yet Pickett had his ankle landed on while scrambling the next week against Arizona and underwent surgery.

By the time the ankle had healed, the Steelers had caught fire under Rudolph and Pickett spent the final two weeks as Rudolph's backup.

The spotlight won't be nearly as bright for Pickett in Philadelphia, which already has an established starter in Jalen Hurts. Pickett, who grew up in central New Jersey about 80 miles from Lincolin Financial Field, will get an opportunity to hit the reset button on a career that's gone awry quickly.

The move also gives the Eagles some experienced depth behind Hurts, who Philadelphia drafted in 2020 after signing Carson Wentz to a lengthy extension.


AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report.

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