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Free Agent QB Possibilities for the Steelers by TJ Chapman


With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a new starting quarterback for the 2022 season. The Steelers recently have publicly endorsed Mason Rudolph as the replacement for Big Ben, however they also seem to be looking outside the organization for the 2022 starter. Below is a list of Free Agent quarterbacks I feel the Steelers will and/or should go after.

– Mitch Trubisky; The former #2 overall draft pick seldom saw the field in 2021 as he was the backup to Buffalo’s Josh Allen. Trubisky’s time with the Chicago Bears was a rollercoaster ride to say the least. He showed signs of being a very good quarterback, but he also showed signs that he may not live up to the hype of a #2 overall draft pick. A season of sitting and learning from Josh Allen hopefully rubbed off on Trubisky and a change of scenery could potentially help him live up to the expectations of his draft position. With the right coaches and system Trubisky could thrive as a starter, the question is are the Steelers and Matt Canada the right fit? I think so. Of the free agent quarterbacks available Trubisky would be at the top of my list.

– Jameis Winston; The former 1st overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner, Winston, like Trubisky, has not lived up to the hype of his draft position. He has had some monster years statistically with Tampa Bay but his decision-making skills and carelessness with the ball have led to an overall record of 37-46. Winston’s 2021 season ended in late October with a torn ACL and damage to his MCL. The recovery of this injury will cause Winston to miss most of the spring with whatever team he signs with. In 2020 Winston was an understudy to Drew Brees in New Orleans and up until his injury in 2021 he showed signs of being a very capable quarterback. With that talent alone and the ability to put up those monster numbers Winston would be my second choice of free agents the Steelers should pursue.

– Marcus Mariota; Another former #2 overall draft pick as well as another Heisman Trophy winner who hasn’t lived up to the hype. Mariota has been the backup to Derek Carr in Las Vegas the past two seasons and in that time has thrown just 30 passes.  Mariota has tremendous talent, but he just hasn’t been able to put it all together to become the elite quarterback he was expected to be coming out of Oregon. He has good mobility which will be a plus in the Matt Canada offense. May not cost nearly as much in a contract to get Mariota as it would some of the others.

– Teddy Bridgewater; A former 1st round draft pick, #32 overall, Bridgewater had a good season as Denver’s starter in 2021 completing 67% of his passes for 3,052 yards with 18 touchdowns and 7 interceptions in just 14 games. Bridgewater isn’t the kind of quarterback who will put his team on his shoulders and carry them to a win but he’s a step ahead of most game managing quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s also a bit injury prone but is a solid starting quarterback. May not be the next franchise quarterback for the Steelers but definitely worth looking into.

– Cam Newton; Seeing a trend here as Cam is a former 1st overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner who has had more success than any of the others on this list, but he hasn’t put it together to be a consistent winning quarterback. Newton’s Carolina Panthers did play in the Super Bowl in 2015 but were defeated by the Denver Broncos 24-10. Cam was the starting quarterback in New England in 2020 but the Patriots cut him just before the start of the 2021 season as they wanted to go with rookie 1st round pick Mac Jones. He landed back in Carolina, the team that drafted him, but he couldn’t beat out Sam Darnold to be the starter. Cam has thrown for over 32,000 yards in his career so bringing him in on a one or two year deal would be ideal for the Steelers to bridge the gap from now until the Steelers find their future franchise quarterback, possibly one who can learn under Newton. Not sure how much he has left in the tank, though, so Newton should be further down on the Steelers’ wish list.

– Tyrod Taylor; Has been a spot starter and backup for Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, the Chargers and Houston. Taylor is a capable quarterback but is very injury prone. Like Cam Newton, Taylor is in the back end of his career. He can be valuable to help bring along a young or rookie quarterback with his experience and knowledge but I’m not sure he’s the answer Pittsburgh is looking for. If the Steelers go with Taylor there better be a legitimate plan in place for the future franchise quarterback.

– Joe Flacco; Andy Dalton & Ryan Fitzpatrick. All good veteran quarterbacks but none are a good fit for Matt Canada’s offense. All three have had various levels of success in the NFL and could be a tremendous help to a young or rookie future franchise quarterback. But, c’mon, can you really picture Joe Flacco or Andy Dalton donning the black and gold?

In my opinion, if they haven’t already, the Steelers need to do a number of things before going after any of these free agent quarterbacks. First, I think they need to do all they can to find out the depth of what really is going on with the Deshaun Watson legal situation. And if, IF, they clear all of the hurdles and Houston comes down on their asking price, I’d throw a few high draft picks their way to get Watson. If any red flags surface or if the price is too high, I’d then call Seattle and see what it would take to get Russell Wilson to Pittsburgh. If that’s a bust, I next go to Las Vegas and see if the rumors of Derek Carr wanting out are true and if so, see what it will take to get him. Once they’ve exhausted all of those options I’d then look to this group of free agents. The only way I’d want to get Aaron Rodgers in Pittsburgh is if the Steelers draft a quarterback either this season or next that Rodgers can help mold into a franchise quarterback. I’m not sure he’d be willing to do that but if he is that would be the only way I’d want Rodgers if I’m the Steelers.

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