Normally, The quarterback position would be a non-issue in Steel City. But nothing seems to be normal in Pittsburgh as of late. First, you have a quarterback that has a window that the starting to narrow. Now, there is the possibility that he slams that window shut on himself and all of Steeler nation. When Ben Roethlisberger mentioned that he was going to explore all options in the off-season, including retirement, the prospect of life after-Ben became more daunting. It appeared on the radar for something for the first time and bigger on the screen for those who had it inthe back of their minds for some time. I've mentioned before that I think that this is merely a warning to the team that Ben wants loose lugnuts to be tightened or No. 7 will park the truck and hitchhike off into the sunset.
Personally, I think Ben will remain the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, drafting a successor should start to become a priority if Ben decides that the team does not give him a reason to stay or if he wins a ring next season.
In this series, BTSC will go position-by-position and highlight the top free agents at every position and determine whether Pittsburgh is a possibility for any of them to land. This week, we will take a look at the quarterback position.
Since I don't consider starting QB a position of great need, I will look at players that could serve more as a backup. Some feel that Landry Jones has that role sewn up. While others feel that the free agent should be allowed to walk. There is also the uncertain status of Bruce Gradkowski who has not been physically able to be placed on the roster the past two years and nobody knows what the plans are for Zach Mettenberger. The fact remains that if Ben goes down, those games without him don't have to be a lost cause and a solid backup could be a priority.
The best QB of the free agent bunch is indeed Kirk Cousins. He will not be highlighted here due to his status as a upper-shelf starter and franchise QB. Other players, who are not currently free agents, but could be soon are Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor. They would probably be in line for starting nods as well. So let's merely take a look at the guys who are officially free agents without question. Here are the best free agent signal-callers available that may fit the Steelers bill.
1. Brian Hoyer-Chicago Bears
To me, Hoyer is a pretty good example of a solid backup quarterback. The former-Steeler has experience as a starter in this league. He had a hand in helping the Texans to the playoffs in 2015. In six starts last year in Chicago, the MSU-alum had a completion percentage of 67.0, a QBR of 98.0 and six touchdowns against zero picks in six starts. For his career, Hoyer is a 59.5% passer with 44 TDs against 26 interceptions. The 31 year-old would be a solid option as Big Ben's #2.
2. Mike Glennon-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Glennon is tall. A 6'7"quarterback with 30 TDs against 15 picks is appetizing to NFL teams, but those numbers weren't from last season, they are from his four-year career. In fact, Glennon, who started for the Bucs before being displaced by Jameis Winston, threw only eleven passes the past two years. In December, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter reported that the 27 year-old is seeking $13-$15 million dollars a year and a starting position. The Steelers need tałent at backup and Glennon could fit that role well, but not for anywhere near that kind of cash.
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick-New York Jets
Fitzpatrick has a lot of experience as a starter in this league in his 12-year career. The Harvard grad is intelligent and a leader, but his 2016 season with the Jets was disastrous, evidenced by a 3-8 record and his throwing 12 TDs and 17 INTs. Fitz-magic held out after an impressive 2015, but it backfired badly. The veteran of six teams has a reputation as an interception machine, but he has 166 TD passes against 133 INTs thrown. If the 34 year-old would accept a backup role, he would be a reliable option should Roethlisberger succumb to injury.
4. Geno Smith-New York Jets
Smith was projected to be a solid and dependable passer in the NFL, but the WVU product has had an unfortunate and tumultuous career in his four years with the Jets. He's battled injury and inconsistency in the pros throwing 28 TDs against 36 picks while completing only 57.9% of his passes. The 27 year-old could benefit by playing under Big Ben, but he would come with a lot of worry and uncertainty.
5. Nick Foles-Kansas City Chiefs
I wanted the Steelers to pursue Foles last season after being released by the Rams, but he stayed in Missouri with the Chiefs. Foles is another guy that seems to be seeking a starter gig with starter money, but may be more suited for a clipboard job. The former Pro Bowler made $10.75 million last year and may be out of the Steelers range. Foles, who had 27 TDs against 2 INTs in 2013, has a 60.4% completion rate in his five-year career.
Other Notable Free Agent Quarterbacks
Matt Barkley-Chicago Bears
Christian Ponder-San Francisco 49ers
Ryan Mallett-Baltimore Ravens
Case Keenum-Los Angeles Rams
Blaine Gabbert-San Francisco 49ers
Shaun Hill-Minnesota Vikings
Josh Johnson-New York Giants
Landry Jones-Pittsburgh Steelers
Johnny Manziel-Cleveland Browns
Tyler Bray-Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Schaub-Atlanta Falcons
Dan Orlovsky-Detroit Lions