Look, I’m just as disappointed as you are about the double dose of quarterback news that had to go down hard and harder on Tuesday when it was reported that Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers was staying in Green Bay, while Russell Wilson was being shipped to the Broncos for just about everything.
Actually, I’m not. This is what happens when you have realistic expectations about something, which I did when it came to the idea of Rodgers or Wilson ever becoming a Steeler.
Close your eyes and picture the Steelers sending the Packers multiple first-round picks in order to acquire Rodgers and then agreeing to pay this 38-year old man $153 million, the reported guaranteed amount of money Rodgers will receive once the ink on this new deal dries.
Did you try it? There’s no way you could know the Steelers and then imagine them ever doing such a thing—no matter how many times you photoshopped Rodgers’ grizzly, old face into a Steelers uniform, complete with Terry Bradshaw’s number 12.
And if you thought the Steelers could have fetched Rodgers for anything less than multiple first-round picks, that balloon was popped literally moments later when it was announced that the Seahawks had traded Wilson to Denver in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a fifth-round pick, along with quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris.
You wanted Wilson, too, and that kind of ransom was what Pittsburgh would have had to part with in order to get him.
Not to mention Wilson’s enormous salary plus the rumors that he wants an even bigger salary in the not-so-distant future.
OK, maybe you have to be aggressive to win in the NFL, and in your mind, both Green Bay and Denver acted in that manner and should be admired for their bravery.
Perhaps, but the Packers are in a situation where their star player, their franchise quarterback, is the key to continued success, even if he’s failed to bring them a Super Bowl title for 12 years. It’s like what Bradshaw once said about the franchise quarterback: You may lose with me, but you’ll never win without me.
The Broncos, meanwhile, haven’t been able to draft John Elway’s replacement since he retired 23 years ago. Actually, Elway, in his long-tenured role as an influential front-office executive with the Broncos, has now brought in two veterans (Peyton Manning in 2012 via free agency and now Wilson in 2022 via trade) to give Denver the franchise quarterback necessary to seriously compete for a title.
But both the Packers and Broncos are in a different place than the Steelers. The Steelers just had to say goodbye to their franchise guy—Ben Roethlisberger—after 18 years. Do they seriously want to put themselves out there like that so soon? And are they ready for another such relationship?
I say that they’re not. I say that they have other areas of their team that must be improved before they are a quarterback away from winning it all.
At least they and you can move on, right? It’s like when you have a crush on someone and ultimately work up the nerve to ask them out. If they say yes, great! But if they say no, you accept the answer and move on to your next crush. I’m not sure if the Steelers ever seriously had eyes for Rodgers and Wilson (even if head coach Mike Tomlin gave us that impression about the former during a game at Lambeau Field last year), but the fans certainly did.
Now you know. Now you can get back to thinking about a more tangible and sensible solution for the Steelers next quarterback.
Maybe it’s Mason Rudolph. Maybe it’s some veteran free agent. Maybe it’s a draft pick.
But no matter how the Steelers go about addressing their quarterback situation, it’s going to be far more realistic than Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson ever was.