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Thread: Plenty of options available as Steelers pursue competition for Kenny Pickett at QB

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    Plenty of options available as Steelers pursue competition for Kenny Pickett at QB

    Plenty of options available as Steelers pursue competition for Kenny Pickett at QB

    CHRIS ADAMSKI | Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024

    Taking Mike Tomlin at his word during his end-of-season news conference, Kenny Pickett has reclaimed his role as QB1 for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Tomlin, of course, also promised competition. That term is open for interpretation, as are the Steelers methods for evaluating options in providing that aforementioned competition. It can take on myriad forms.

    Here are the routes available for the Steelers to fill out their quarterbacks room in 2024:

    Internal options

    Again, if Tomlin's words are to be believed, the Steelers have interest in doing continual business with Mason Rudolph. One of the longest-tenured players on the team, Rudolph would provide continuity to the QB room. And the four-game stretch (including playoffs) he played over late December into early January was the best by a Steelers passer since Ben Roethlisberger retired. Also, rarely have the Steelers over their history let one of their own free agents leave if they truly wanted to keep him.

    But that doesn't factor in whether Rudolph will desire two things the Steelers might not want to offer: significantly more money and a legit opportunity at the starting job.

    In regards to each, Rudolph will surely want at least as much of both that Mitch Trubisky received the past two years. Trubisky pocketed $14.29 million for his services, was named the starter to begin 2022 and handed the No. 2 gig this past season. Neither was in reality available to Rudolph on either occasion.

    Due $5.25 million in 2024, Trubisky probably will not be back.

    Free agency, high-end

    There are two quarterbacks who (when healthy) ended this past season as starters whose contracts expire. Each might be an attractive yet not totally ideal option if the Steelers were shopping for a legit QB1. But with Tomlin's implicit preference for giving Pickett every opportunity to start in his third NFL season, neither Kirk Cousins nor Baker Mayfield would want to come to Pittsburgh. For that matter, the Steelers won't want to pay them what it would take to get them here anyway.

    Russell Wilson generally falls into the same category, albeit his salary likely would be less after his expected release from the Denver Broncos. Still, it would make little sense for either party if Wilson came to the Steelers absent the idea he's the unquestioned QB1.

    Though he technically should go into a different heading because he would be acquired via trade and not as a free agent, the same broad criteria for the above three players applies to the Chicago Bears Justin Fields. Fields would be an intriguing option, but the acquisition cost in addition to his salary demands in the not-so-distant future make it untenable to bring him in as mere competition.

    Free agency, bargain bin

    In the next tier of free agency is a handful of quarterbacks who have extensive starting experience in the NFL but are viewed as unlikely to be franchise QBs ever again. Players such as Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz and (after his late-2023 career renaissance) Joe Flacco are surely self-aware enough to accept a lesser contract without concrete assurances of playing time. But each could perhaps reasonably believe that if given a legitimate opportunity, he could beat out Pickett.

    A step down from those four are players who at this point are universally regarded strictly as backups. But the vast majority of teams would feel satisfied to have Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, Sam Darnold or Gardner Minshew as their QB2. Each would provide a practical if under-inspiring insurance policy if Pickett can't put it all together.

    Long shot lottery tickets

    To varying degrees and for good reason, the overwhelming consensus on the likes of Mac Jones (2021 first round), Drew Lock (2019 second round), Zach Wilson (2021 first round), Desmond Ridder (2022 third round) and Sam Howell (2022 fifth round) is that none are franchise QB-caliber. But maybe the Steelers had an affinity for one of them at the time he was drafted and still believes he's worth a flier. Any would come at relatively low cost (all but Lock would require a trade), none would necessitate an immediate demotion of Pickett, and it's at least within the realm of possibility that given the right set of circumstances that such a reclamation project perhaps could blossom. Or, at least, be a serviceable backup to Pickett.

    Draft pick

    This option covers a wide breadth of alternatives with options too countless to comprehensively list. But it also could be characterized as more likely than not that the Steelers add a quarterback at some point of the draft, at least with how things stand today.

    Forget about the likes of Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. Zero chance. And the odds aren?t much better, if at all, for anyone else that would require a first-round pick.

    Day 2? It's at least worth considering. Maybe the Steelers fall in love with Michael Penix, J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix or Michael Pratt, while somehow the rest of the league lets him fall. Perhaps someone currently rated further down zooms up the Steelers board.

    Most likely, though, if it's a rookie the Steelers add he will be a mid-to-late-round QB to be named later.

    https://triblive.com/sports/plenty-o...pickett-at-qb/
    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 01-28-2024 at 02:56 AM.
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat

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    I know it's probably 99% chance we'll go internal or bargain bin, because that's the best way to get to 9 wins, but they need to find The Guy, and the lottery shots and draft picks give you a better chance at doing that than safe, cheap retreads.

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    Steelers meet with Florida St QB Jordan Travis at Shrine Bowl

    https://steelersdepot.com/2024/01/fl...t-shrine-bowl/
    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 01-29-2024 at 03:54 PM.
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawaiiansteel View Post
    Steelers meet with Florida St QB Jordan Davis at Shrine Bowl

    https://steelersdepot.com/2024/01/fl...t-shrine-bowl/
    He should be available mid rounds due to the injury. Definitely some value there if he recovers from the injury.
    I lost a bet about Najee gaining 1300 yards.

    "Our head coach has failed to win a playoff game for seven years in a row. His game day strategy, culture of divas, in game decisions, clock management, player evaluation, hires, and affinity with sub par starters at RB, P, and OL are holding the Steelers back. That standard remains the standard"



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    I stand by cutting Mitch, let Mason and Pickett battle it out for #1, and drafting Mike Pratt, QB, Tulane as #3. I think we can get him in round 4.
    Help me find my post proving I am a Yinzer!

    My early 2024 draft:

    1.) OC - Jackson Powers-Johnson, C - Oregon
    2.) DL - D'Vondre Sweat, NT, Texas
    3.) ILB - Payton Wilson, ILB - NC State
    4a.) OT - Matt Goncalves, ROT - Pitt
    4b.) S -Tykee Smith - S - Georgia
    6.) CB - Marcellus Dial - CB - South Carolina
    7.) DT - Jamree Kromah DT James Madison

    UDFA: P, WR, QB, TE

    Sign Mason Rudolph

    We don't apologize for winning!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by WindyCitySteel View Post
    I know it's probably 99% chance we'll go internal or bargain bin, because that's the best way to get to 9 wins, but they need to find The Guy, and the lottery shots and draft picks give you a better chance at doing that than safe, cheap retreads.
    Who would you take in their high end options?

    My guess is that Baker signs with TB after having some success and feeling wanted. It's being reported that both sides want to get a deal done. And they could even tag him if they wanted (although that's a lot of money).

    I personally don't think Cousins is a great bet given the price and duration of the contract they'd have to sign. But I could see arguments on the other side.

    I think it's obvious to say "we need a better QB". Lord knows I feel this way.

    But it's the "how do we get one" and "when should we make the play" that make it hard IMO.

    Do you still want the Steelers to trade for Fields? If so, what do you think a reasonable acquisition cost is? And how would you handle his contract situation when you trade for him? My understanding is that a team that wants to trade for him would have to exercise the 5th year option basically sight unseen. And I think that should drive the price to acquire him way down. I think I'd do it for a 3rd, but I don't know if I'd do more than that.

    I'm not a huge fans of paying lots of money to QBs that can't win when they're super cheap. And Fields has 10 wins in 38 starts.

    Would that really be all that much better than bringing back Mason or signing someone like Minshew? Especially since those guys will only cost cap space and money. Fields will cost that plus a draft pick. And I'm not sure he's that much better (if at all).

    Ultimately, teams very rarely let good QBs go.
    Last edited by Northern_Blitz; 01-29-2024 at 05:41 PM.

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    Steelers can mark QB Kirk Cousins off their free agent wish list

    Curt Popejoy
    Mon, Jan 29, 2024

    If the Pittsburgh Steelers were considering signing a veteran free agent quarterback to help solidify the position, they might want to mark Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins off the list. According to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the buzz is that Cousins could seek a two-year contract worth $90 million guaranteed.

    Cousins is on the shortlist of pending free agents who could help the Steelers get the offense back on track. But if Cousins, who will turn 36 years old in August, wants $45 million per year, his options are going to be very limited.

    At the end of the season, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hinted that the starting quarterback for 2024 is already on the roster and that he's already endorsed Kenny Pickett to be the starter. However, if Mason Rudolph doesn't re-sign, adding a veteran would make sense. However, it would have to be a fiscally responsible decision, especially with Mitch Trubisky still under contract.

    https://sports.yahoo.com/steelers-ma...jo5Jtrj5QeVMs0
    Steel Maniac's Time-Based Prediction: Lamar Jackson will be a bust and total flop in the NFL.

    What Actually Happened: Lamar Jackson became the youngest two-time NFL MVP winner ever.

    Gloat gloat gloat

  8. #8
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    Tomlin created a dilemma of his own doing when he declared Pickett as "QB1" while also saying he wants competition. Any perspective QB that expects a legitimate chance to start will look at the 'competition' as a farce.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northern_Blitz View Post
    Who would you take in their high end options?
    Starting to sour on my Fields idea, he's had plenty of starts as well and still has fundamental problems seeing the field. Don't like any of the "high end" vets. Would have taken ARod the last couple of years.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthCoast View Post
    Tomlin created a dilemma of his own doing when he declared Pickett as "QB1" while also saying he wants competition. Any perspective QB that expects a legitimate chance to start will look at the 'competition' as a farce.
    I don't think he created a dilemma. It's just coach-speak from a coach who's the king of coach-speak. Each camp is going to have its own way of determining the pecking order. It really doesn't matter what he said. He was just giving Kenny a slight "feel good" that it's still his job to lose.

    But, if we sign a high dollar free agent, there's a 100% chance that guy will be QB1, no matter what Tomlin said or says or does.

    If we draft a QB and go to camp with Kenny, Mason and rookie, then Kenny will enter camp as "QB1" and maybe there will actually be a competition with Mason.

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