Shortly after the Steelers failed to select a single quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft, and shortly after the Steelers signed zero undrafted free agent quarterbacks after the draft, I couldn’t wait to run to my laptop and troll the “Who’s going to throw him the football if Ben gets hurt?” crowd.
That crowd, the one that’s spent the past several months—or at least it just seems that way with this ongoing pandemic—obsessing over the need to sign Jameis Winston as a more viable backup quarterback option than Mason Rudolph and Co., just wouldn’t shut up about it. To that point, one of the first things someone Tweeted @ me after my Chase Claypool article was published on Saturday was, in-fact, “Who’s going to throw him the football if Ben gets hurt?”
Grrrrr! If ever an entity needed a trolling article about this subject, it was that crowd, and I couldn’t wait to write it.
But then it was revealed on Sunday that, not only did Winston sign with the Saints to be their backup quarterback, some guy named Nick Sitro Tweeted, “Jameis Winston was offered a more lucrative deal by the Pittsburgh Steelers, per source. In the end, he decided to learn under Drew Brees and Sean Payton.”
“There goes that trolling, snarky article,” I thought. Sure, the Steelers didn’t draft or sign any young quarterbacks over the weekend, but if they really did offer Winston a lucrative deal to be their backup, how confident were/are they in the likes of Rudolph, Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch?
The reported offer to Winston was mentioned during my podcast with co-host Bryan Anthony Davis on Monday. We discussed it. We processed it. But there was still a part of me that thought the whole story was bullpucky.
The notion that the Steelers pursued Winston flew in the face of their entire offseason, and their statements and actions regarding Rudolph, the backup quarterback situation, etc.
And that’s why I kept my ears open for a follow-up to the Winston story from someone not named Nick Sitro.
It didn’t take long.
Hours later, it was reported by Dale Lolley, Gerry Dulac and other local Steelers insiders—guys not named Nick Sitro—that Pittsburgh didn’t offer Winston a deal and, in fact, had “zero interest” in doing so.
So, there you go. Time to write that trolling, snarky article.
I guess I already am.
Seriously, what’s it going to take for people to come to grips with the Steelers decision to not pursue more veteran, more accomplished quarterbacks to be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup for 2020? I’m guessing it’s going to take a whole lot more than the squashing of the Winston rumors, since I’m already seeing “#Steelers need to sign Cam Newton!” Tweets.
Hey, I get it, Rudolph looked like a second-year quarterback with zero experience in 2019. And Hodges mostly played like a guy who we might have hated, if not for his cool nickname and backstory.
I’m not even sure if I’m comfortable with the Steelers backup quarterback situation heading into 2020. But I really do hope Rudolph learned a lot last season while appearing in 10 games and starting eight in-place of an injured Roethlisberger. It was actually an intriguing development that most teams—franchises with older star quarterbacks who have recent draft picks as their backups—don’t get to experience.
It’s not often a team in that situation gets to compile real-live data on its young backup(s) to evaluate, process and make decisions on. The Steelers actually have that data now. Apparently, they’re comfortable with that data and the progress that Rudolph has made.
That’s really all that matters.
We can scream about the backup quarterback situation as loud as we want—and do it from the highest point of Mt. Washington—but the Steelers aren’t trying to hear us.
One of these days, I want president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert or head coach Mike Tomlin to address the media while doing an impression of one of those bad guys you always see in your typical fictional police drama. Not the main, menacing bad guy they usually catch at the end. But the schmuck bad guy that didn’t really do it but is having a hard time convincing the detective who is questioning him right before the bottom of the hour and Act III:
“Look, man, how many times do I gotta say it? We are not interested in finding another backup quarterback. Do..........you...........need........me.........to.........speak.........slower?”
If that doesn’t work, the Steelers may need to make a phone call and hire a lawyer to come deal with their backup quarterback situation.