With the introduction of the salary cap back in 1994, teams have been forced to find creative ways to keep their team a competitive and a viable commodity year in and year out. With the adjustments to the cap floor every year, so to must team adjust contracts and their approach to the free agency markets. Since 2001, Omar Khan has been the Capologist Czar for the Steelers. He has been instrumental in keeping the Steelers not only competitive year in and year out, but help build three Super Bowl teams with two of them being champions.
Since 2009, Khan has been interviewed (or rumored to be a high level of interest target) at the beginning of each offseason as a GM candidate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – part of the consequences of having a successful franchise like the Steelers means that the supporting cast can become a revolving door because other teams want to take them away. Frustrating to the point where you want to look to the heavens and scream, ‘Khhhhaaaaaannnnn!!!!!’
This offseason is no different from the last five or so with Khan. The latest team courting him at the moment is the New York Jets. Khan is a youngin’ in GM years. At 35, Khan would be one of the youngest GM’s to hit the NFL – not that that matters. Khan’s genius at scouting players (his days back with the Saints) and the ability to keep them around with as little cost to the franchise as possible, would have any NFL owner drooling more than Rex Ryan at an Old Country Buffet. There is speculation that Khan might have an interest in the Jets because of past relationships with folks already in New York. It’s also a bigger market. And, others speculate that he just might be the big enough carrot to lure Bill Cowher out of retirement. I’m sure there’s a pretty hefty paycheck with that.
Khan either obviously loves the Steelers organization so much or that the other teams like the Rams or Seattle didn’t have much to offer to pull Khan away from Pittsburgh. Either way, it’s been a pretty damn good deal for the Steelers, and they recently promoted him to being the actual Director of Business & Football Administration instead of just the Coordinator. That might be enough to keep him around the South Side, especially if you love what you do.
But, if Khan were to go the way of Gang Green, the Steelers could be in some serious trouble (a different kind of gangrene altogether). Without a genius like Khan at the helm, restructuring and retaining key players on the Steelers roster when they are already $10 million over the cap before they even begin will be a huge challenge. This kind of loss would have a trickle down effect throughout the team like no other – it will affect free agency, the draft, and future team development. Talk about a huge-ass monkey wrench thrown into the machine of the Front Office.
Let’s hope for the sake of Steeler Nation that Khan loves his Permanti more than he would like to try a slice of cheesecake from the Carnegie Deli.