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Free Agent quarterback options for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016

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With injuries already occurring at quarterback, the depth at the position for the Steelers has again been brought into question. Is there anyone still availible in free agency who could add this needed depth?

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have already had what now seems to be their annual crop of quarterback injuries. With Bruce Gradkowski suffering a hamstring injury and out for a number of weeks, and Dustin Vaughan fracturing his thumb, both in the second preseason game against the Eagles, the Steelers have signed Bryn Renner to add depth. However, as has already been mentioned, Renner may not be the permanent solution due to his lack of play time in the NFL and so could just be on the roster for " a cup of coffee". The idea of re-signing Michael Vick has also been discussed here on BTSC, and so I won't be discussing him. With Landry Jones' inconsistent play, and lack of depth behind him, it may be a good time for Pittsburgh to be looking into free agency for a QB to add depth at the position.

Now, I realize that there are still two rounds of cuts to come to rosters, from 90 to 53 players, and so I don't think that the Steelers are likely to make any big moves until then, but are there any players currently on free agency who we could see in black and gold?

Here are three possibilities.

Tarvaris Jackson

Jackson is a 33 year-old quarterback who last played for the Seattle Seahawks behind Russell Wilson. Straight away his age could be considered useful due to his first team experience with Seattle. Back in 2011, he started all but 2 games for the Seahawks, and played in all but one. Further to that, Jackson had a passer rating of 81 across the four years he was there. Admittedly, he hasn't started a game since 2011, but that is likely due to the fact that Seattle acquired Russell Wilson, who is a pretty good quarterback. So not only does he have first team experience, something that many (including myself) like about Bruce Gradkowski, but also he is comfortable playing behind someone else. This could be really helpful, due to the fact that this experience could be used to help out other players on the roster, in particular Jones' failure to nail some fundamentals and Vaughan's sheer lack of experience of the NFL regular season. All of this is good, except the price tag - his previous average salary was $1.5 million. This could be a major turn off for the Steelers on Jackson.

Josh Freeman

What separates Freeman from Jackson is his price, Freeman's last average salary was $745,000. Further to that, he has a little more upside than Jackson - he is younger (at 28) but also has first team play. In the 2010 and 2012 seasons, he started all 16 games for Tampa Bay, of which the Bucs went 10-6 in the 2010 season. In that season, his passer rating was 95.9, and in 2012 it was 81.6. However, his career rating isn't as spectacular at 77.6, and at Indianapolis (his last team) it was 65.9. Additionally, he only had one start last year when Indianapolis had to sign him with all of their QB issues. Regardless, the fact that he has more years in the tank than Jackson, and also has starting experience at a lower price are all positives.

T.J. Yates

Yates, much like Freeman, had a low average salary last year of $745,000 and is younger than Jackson too at 29 years-old. He has not got anywhere near as much experience as the other two, as he has only had 7 starts ever, two of which were last year at Houston. On the other hand, this guy seems to have been born to be a backup QB, being as he has played every season, so should be comfortable sat behind Roethlisberger. As well as this, his passer rating is a little more consistent than the other two, on his career he is 72.8 but has only dropped below 77 on season twice (although these dips were rather low, on in the 2012 season, the other in 2013).

None of these players are going to be spectacular. They are backup QBs, and Pittsburgh is in need of depth. I don't expect any backup quarterback to be making any major influence on the season (at least I hope they don't). However, at least these players can play the game at a consistent level, and have proven that they can manage a game. Ultimately that's all a team needs and wants from a backup. Of course, I would feel more comfortable if the the Steelers hadn't had had any injuries, especially to quarterback, in the preseason, but hopefully the team can find some kind of answer, and maybe one of these three men can provide some kind of solution.