For the first time since 2004 the Pittsburgh Steelers are searching for their next starting quarterback. Yes, Mason Rudolph remains on the team’s roster, along with Dwayne Haskins, but the vast majority of fans and media understand there are names which are going to be added to the depth chart.
Trying to predict who will be coming to Pittsburgh, and at what cost, ranges from Aaron Rodgers being coaxed away from the Green Bay Packers to free agent quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett.
ESPN recently took a look at the quarterback carousel which could take place this offseason, and predicted the outcome of big name quarterbacks like Rodgers, Russell Wilson and even the 2022 NFL Draft class of signal callers.
Let’s take a look at the quarterbacks they predicted the Steelers would be in the market for, what they offered, and what ended up being the end result. Reminder, these are ESPN’s predictions, not those of the author or BTSC. Therefore, the predictions on ESPN have the Steelers offering deals laden with incentives, which is something the Steelers typically avoid doing. It just isn’t how they do business.
Let’s get to the predictions...
QB: Aaron Rodgers
Steelers are not even in the mix for the NFL MVP.
QB: Russell Wilson
Like Rodgers, the Steelers know the price tag is too high, so they avoid even putting in an offer.
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo
Steelers Offer: 2022 third-rounder, 2023 sixth-rounder and half of Garoppolo’s salary for Garoppolo.
Garoppolo can help transition the Steelers’ offense following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement.
QB: Derek Carr
Steelers are not in the mix for the former Las Vegas Raiders signal caller.
QB: Jameis Winston
Steelers Offer: Two years, $10M ($6.5M guaranteed)
There would be up to $3.5M in snap-count incentives for at least 70% of snaps, plus a playoff bonus (if you play at least 70% of snaps), and the deal would carry a team option for the second year. Surrounded with young offensive weapons and a complementary star-studded defense, you’ll help keep the Super Bowl window open and have a real opportunity to be the next franchise quarterback of the Steelers.
Result: Winston chooses to return to the New Orleans Saints.
QB: Teddy Bridgewater
The Steelers are not in the mix for the former Denver Broncos quarterback.
QB: Marcus Mariota
Steelers Offer: Two years, $14M ($8M guaranteed)
We will include snap-count incentives for 70% of snaps, and making the playoffs while playing 70% of snaps. There’s no better place to prove you’re still a starting quarterback in this league than in Pittsburgh, with an offense that works to your strengths. And you’ll have premium offensive weapons like running back Najee Harris, tight end Pat Freiermuth and receiver Diontae Johnson.
Result: Mariota decides to stay with the Raiders.
QB: Cam Newton
The Steelers don’t put an offer in for the former league MVP.
QB: Jacoby Brissett
Steelers Offer: Two years, $10M ($10M guaranteed)
The total value could increase up to $15M based on playing-time incentives. We’ll give you a shot to compete for the starters’ gig, and our offense has plenty of targets for you in the passing game.
Result: Pittsburgh wasn’t willing to part with the draft capital necessary to land Jimmy Garoppolo, and Marcus Mariota’s asking price was higher than expected. So we went with a different mid-tier veteran in Brissett. He’s an intriguing candidate partly because of his mobility, something that both coach Mike Tomlin and owner Art Rooney II have emphasized as a priority in the next quarterback. Bringing him in also gives the Steelers the flexibility to draft a quarterback in 2022 or use him as a bridge option to get to a stronger 2023 or 2024 class. And as veterans of the Steelers’ system, Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins could compete with Brissett.
2022 NFL Draft
20. Steelers: Sam Howell, UNC
The Steelers come out of free agency and the draft with not one, but two new quarterbacks. Because of his mobility and big arm potential, Howell is a fit for the Steelers. Brissett and Howell (and perhaps Rudolph) could compete for the starting job in camp, but the team would have flexibility to sit Howell for a year — or as long as possible in the 2022 season — and develop.
Okay, there is a lot to unpack here for Pittsburgh Steelers fans who might take ESPN’s take to heart. First, as I stated before getting to the predictions, these “offers” are riddled with incentives. This just isn’t what the Steelers do with any players. They didn’t do it with a superstar like T.J. Watt, and they haven’t done it with free agent acquisitions like Steven Nelson. The Steelers will pay players what they feel they are worth. Fans might not like it, but that is just what recent history has shown. With that said, the Steelers had never used voidable years as much as they did prior to the 2021 regular season, but some, like myself, view that as just a necessity to manipulate a tough salary cap situation.
Other than the incentives, I think it is safe to say the Steelers will be in play for a veteran quarterback, and also in the mix for a rookie. That does not mean the veteran will be Jacoby Brissett, and the rookie will be Sam Howell. I was shocked ESPN didn’t at least acknowledge the connection between Brissett and Matt Canada, the two worked together at N.C. State, but ultimately the Steelers will keep all their options open, as it pertains to the quarterback position moving forward.
The Steelers are a team searching for their next quarterback, and these type of predictions will become a regularity this offseason; however, it is hard to believe the new league year will be here in just over a month, March 14th being the legal tampering period beginning. In other words, Steelers fans will be start to get their answers sooner, rather than later.
In the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the upcoming offseason.