Dec 3, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) warms up before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As the Pittsburgh Steelers held their end-of-season media availability on Tuesday, one of the most intriguing players figured to be Kenny Pickett.

Unfortunately, any reporters looking for answers regarding the former first-round pick’s disappointing second season in Pittsburgh were out of luck, as Pickett opted not to attend to attend the media availability, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ray Fittipaldo.

As noted by Fittipaldo, Pickett not attending the end-of-season media availability was notable considering his status as one of the Steelers’ captains. It also comes at the end of 2023 campaign that saw the 25-year-old deal with injuries and ineffectiveness, with Pittsburgh opting to stick with Mason Rudolph for its final playoff push, as well as its Wild Card round loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Following Rudolph’s second start in a Week 17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh media personality Mark Madden stated that Pickett had refused to dress for the game and serve as the Steelers’ backup — a claim that The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly also seemingly implied to be true. During a media availability, the Pitt product denied the accusations, claiming that him not being Rudolph’s backup against the Seahawks was a matter of health.

“I saw reports out there that I felt like were attacking my character and how I am as a person,” Pickett told reporters according to Pro Football Talk. “There was no talk of me being a backup quarterback this week in terms of being a 2. If I was healthy enough to play, if the trainers and coaches felt I looked good enough to play, I was going to start and play. If they believe I was not, which they believed I was not, I was not going to dress and suit up for the game.

“So whoever reported that, I don’t know where it started, it’s kind of crazy what people will write or put out there to try to prove their point or help their standpoint or their careers or what you guys do. I’m disappointed to see that without any proof or basis of it.”

Perhaps Pickett — who did serve as Rudolph’s backup for the Steelers’ regular-season finale and playoff game — had a valid reason for not being at Tuesday’s media availability. Or maybe he wasn’t in the mood to answer more questions about his sophomore slump.

Regardless of the reason he wasn’t at the media availability, his absence only raises more questions regarding his seemingly uncertain future in Pittsburgh.

[Ray Fittipaldo on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.