And then there was one.

Suddenly, stunningly, Russell Wilson is no longer just the presumptive starting quarterback for the Steelers.

He’s now the lone quarterback on the Steelers’ roster.

Does Arthur Smith still have Ryan Tannehill’s number?

Is it time to revisit a Justin Fields deal with Chicago?

Is Michael Penix Jr. suddenly looking a whole lot better at 20th overall?

With the way these reinvented Steelers continue to operate, anything’s possible, including giving up on a first-round pick after just two seasons.

The worst part about this entire saga is it was likely the right thing to do.

And that doesn’t say much for the Steelers’ ability to identify quarterbacks or Kenny Pickett’s ability to play and act like one.

Turns out it wasn’t Pickett’s hands that were too small, it was his heart.

Giving Pickett away to Philadelphia looks, feels and smells like a response to Pickett communicating to the Steelers, either through word or deed or both, that he wasn’t happy with the Wilson acquisition.

That should surprise no one, in retrospect.

Pickett had already established he doesn’t work and play well with others that are a threat to his playing time.

Remember the one-word response when Pickett was asked if he had learned anything while injured and watching Mason Rudolph from the sideline? The one word was “no.”

Remember the reported sit-down strike in Seattle?

Remember Pickett ghosting the media when the Steelers cleaned out their lockers at the conclusion of the season even thought at that juncture he was still perceived to be QB1 and still carried status as a team captain?

Those were apparently the only three strikes the Steelers were willing to concede to a player whose playing ability didn’t justify his behavior.

Had this been a football decision, it would have been made sooner and the Steelers, presumably, would have made more of an effort to bring Mason Rudolph back as Wilson’s backup.

They were apparently willing to hang in there with Pickett until they weren’t. 

So they swallowed hard and punted on what now goes into the record books as an embarrassing first-round gaffe.

The concerning part about that, beyond wasting a first-round pick, is the Steelers thought they had a real bead on Pickett the person as well as Pickett the player and they still got it wrong.

Remember how they were singing Pickett’s praises in terms of his character and the type of representative for the organization and teammate he’d be after selecting him 20th overall in 2022?

Remember how, in the spring following his rookie season, it was revealed he’d been given an office at the practice facility to share with Minkah Fitzpatrick because of the habit those two had of monopolizing the video at the expense of the rest of the players?

Remember the comebacks Pickett engineered as a rookie? The Raiders game? The Ravens game?

Remember the Raiders game last October?

Remember Pickett-to-Pickens at Marlon Humphrey’s expense for the game-winning dagger?

None of it proved to be who Pickett really is, or, perhaps more accurately, who he became.

And that’s on Pickett much more than it is Matt Canada.

At some point Pickett suffered one too many concussions or one too many injuries and subsequently lost his nerve in the pocket.

It also probably didn’t help that Pickett continued to ooze a vibe of entitlement and act like a guy who had been there and done that, even though he hadn’t.

Eventually, his game got away from him and his ability to lead went with it and everybody noticed.

The way the offense started performing and playing, individually and collectively, once Rudolph started playing betrayed not only what the Steelers were capable of with steady, competent, professional quarterbacking but also the qualities and effect Pickett no longer had.

Wilson’s a Band-aid at the position, a determined attempt by the Steelers to win right now.

Pickett’s response should have been to swallow hard, work hard and ready himself for his next opportunity (the way Rudolph did for years prior to the latter stages of the 2023 season).

Instead, it appears obvious Pickett quickly convinced the Steelers that just wasn’t going to happen.

So they did what was necessary.

Pickett goes to Philadelphia, where he’ll either grow up and toughen up or get swallowed up, never to be heard from again.

And the Steelers fall to 0-for-2 in identifying Ben Roethlisberger successors, with Wilson on deck.

San Francisco 49ers v Pittsburgh Steelers

Photo: Joe Sargent / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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