clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Analyzing who should start for the Steelers Sunday, Zach Mettenberger or Landry Jones

Could this be Landry’s last game action?

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a quick glance at impending free agents in 2017 for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the name Landry Jones stands out right away. Jones is a polarizing player for Steeler fans. Some fans view him as a solid backup, while others see him as a liability to the team and want the Black and Gold to move on.

Other fans are clamoring for third-stringer, Zach Mettenberger, to be behind center this Sunday. Playing the Cleveland Browns will amount to nothing more than a preseason game, as the Dawg Pound finally got something to cheer about, with the Browns’ first victory of the season last week. Ben Roethlisburger isn’t getting any younger, and he’s only played a full 16 games three times during his long career. So having a reliable, backup QB is essential and whoever that backup is might wind up on the field at some point in 2017.

This is where Steelers Nation becomes divided as to whom that should be. Should it be Jones or Mettenberger?

Striding into this weekend's tilt with the Browns, Pittsburgh has already decided that they will rest some starters. With Pittsburgh locked into the third seed, they don’t have anything to play for. Big Ben will ride the pine and the Steelers have already named Jones as the starting signal-caller. The game might also become an audition for Landry Jones and make a statement about whether he should be brought back in 2017. Jones has started three games in the past two seasons, losing twice. Steeler fans still have a bad taste in their mouths from last January's playoff game. Jones briefly subbed in for an injured Big Ben and he almost handed Cincinnati a win.

A faction of Steelers fans want at least a glimpse of what Mettenberger brings to the table. They’ve had enough of Jones and think it is time to move on. They point to the fact that Mettenberger has ten career starts, and the tape on him is the reason why he was claimed off of waivers from San Diego. While he’s never won an NFL start, he has shown potential and does have starting experience—both of which are in high demand for NFL backup QBs.

But the fact that the Steelers are trotting Jones out and giving him potentially one final look is crucial. This game might be the deciding factor on how much the Steelers will offer him, or even if an offer is warranted. Every team in the NFL is hamstrung by the salary cap and teams need to perform an intricate financial dance to remain competitive while complying with that cap. As the 63rd highest paid QB in the league, Landry is a cheap backup, only counting $785,000 against the cap in 2016.

That price tag will rise, but by how much may hinge on Sunday's performance. About a dozen backup QBs get paid more than $2 million per season. Josh McCown and Chase Daniels were paid $5 million for their services, or lack thereof, in 2016. Mettenberger is under contract through 2017 and also has a cheap price tag of $690,000. A poor performance from Jones could cement his departure and sweep in the era of Zach Mettenberger. Thus, I don’t think it would be too much of a surprise if Mettenberger is in the game at some point this Sunday in Week 17.

Which QB would you prefer to start and why?