Kenny Pickett trade grades: Eagles land Hurts’ backup; Steelers anoint Russell Wilson QB1?

The Pittsburgh Steelers traded quarterback Kenny Pickett and a fourth-round draft pick (No. 120) to the Philadelphia Eagles for a third-rounder (No. 98) and two seventh-rounders in 2025.

Why they made the move

The Steelers signed quarterback Russell Wilson this week because Pickett was already on shaky ground after a late-season benching. Evidently, something turned to a point where the Steelers didn’t believe Wilson and Pickett could be a sustainable tandem, which must sting a little more after backup Mason Rudolph signed with the Titans.

A few days ago, it felt as though Wilson would be the favorite in a quarterback competition with Pickett. Now, it appears Wilson could essentially run unopposed.


Steelers’ Russell Wilson: ‘This is the place I wanted to be’

The Eagles have been trying to find a backup for Jalen Hurts after Marcus Mariota left for Washington in free agency. Pickett, a 2022 first-round pick, has the tools to boost the depth chart. Maybe he’ll be a better fit in Nick Sirianni’s offense than the system in Pittsburgh.

Don’t lose sight of the fact the Steelers sent Pickett to their in-state rivals, so they must have enough confidence they won’t get burned by this move.

Trade grade (Steelers): C-plus

Even though Wilson wasn’t anointed as the starter upon his agreement with the Steelers, the sentiment existed that he had a pretty good shot.

So the Steelers essentially traded a backup who was in the process of wearing out his welcome. Sure, he carries the added weight of being a backup who was a recent first-round pick, and both the player and team deserve a share of the blame for that squandered potential over the past two seasons.

Therefore, they moved Pickett, moved up the board by 22 spots from the fourth round into the third round and added a couple of seventh-round picks as a throw-in. (The Eagles have four seventh-rounders in 2025, and they’ll send their two highest picks to complete the trade.)

The Steelers probably hoped Wilson’s presence might inspire Pickett to find another gear, even if it only slightly improved his chances of winning another starting opportunity. Instead, they’ll again be searching for a long-term answer at the position.

Trade grade (Eagles): C-minus

The Eagles won’t miss the draft picks, but there should be some skepticism that it’ll work with Pickett. If he didn’t want to back up Wilson — a 35-year-old on a minimum contract — how is it supposed to get any better behind a no-doubt franchise QB in Hurts?

Maybe it was the last straw in a chain of events for Pickett. The Steelers have had their offensive issues for a couple of years, highlighted by the midseason firing of coordinator Matt Canada, so Pickett could have merely determined a fresh start was in his long-term best interest.

Either way, this trade comes with question marks.

More trade grades:

• Bears scoop up star WR Keenan Allen from Chargers

• Seahawks add some QB competition for Geno Smith in Sam Howell deal

• Falcons deal QB Desmond Ridder to Cardinals for WR Rondale Moore

• Steelers send WR Diontae Johnson to Panthers for CB Donte Jackson

• Giants bring in star pass rusher Brian Burns from Panthers

• Lions land top CB Carlton Davis III from Bucs

• Jaguars buy low on Patriots’ Mac Jones 

(Photo of Kenny Pickett and Jalen Hurt: Mitchell Leff /Getty Images)

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