QB Options Steelers Considered Before Landing Wilson, Fields

The Steelers’ quarterbacks room underwent a complete overhaul last month, with every quarterback previously on the roster finding their way out of Pittsburgh while every passer currently on the roster was not a Steeler last season. While it looks like Pittsburgh certainly found its way to the best of a bad situation, things could’ve played out much differently, according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN.

The bad situation referred to above was the quarterback situation immediately following last season. Former first-round quarterbacks Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett were failing to live up to their draft stock, and their best hope was to ride with the hot-handed Mason Rudolph, an option they had never shown much trust in in the past and one who was bound for free agency.

The overhaul began with the release of Trubisky, who returned to Buffalo to serve as Josh Allen‘s backup. Then, things really hit the fan when Pittsburgh landed the signature of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson, who would presumably slide in as the new starter, despite assurances that he would compete with Pickett for the job. Rudolph, seeing his chances at a starting job disappear, opted not to return signing with the Titans. And, after seeing the writing on the wall, Pickett asked for a trade, which the Steelers honored by sending him to Philadelphia, where he would back up Jalen Hurts. Finally, the Steelers filled out the rest of their room by trading for the former polarizing Bears quarterback Justin Fields and signing veteran backup quarterback Kyle Allen.

They flipped a room that appeared to have a pretty low floor with an unclear ceiling and turned it into a room full of proven experience and future potential without committing too many resources to acquire it. Before they landed on Wilson as their best option moving forward, though, the team looked at a few other options.

After hiring former Falcons head coach Arthur Smith as their new offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh felt comfortable moving forward with Pickett leading a run-heavy, play-action offense. Smith had run a successful version of that style of offense in Tennessee with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. The team even explored reuniting Tannehill and Smith with the veteran quarterback hitting free agency this offseason. They also kicked the tires on new Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins before deciding that he was out of their price range.

They also nearly pulled the trigger on a second backup option before trading for Fields. The Steelers reportedly had a high chance of signing new Browns backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, per Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com. A division-rival before and after his new contract, the Steelers had seen Huntley in four of his nine career starts with the Ravens and clearly liked what they saw. With Fields in the fold now, Huntley was the odd man out but ended up staying in the AFC North anyway.

Instead of rolling with Tannehill or Cousins and Huntley, the Steelers are well set up to field an offense with Wilson and Fields in 2024. They certainly did their homework on several options but ended up with what may have been the best-case scenario after a rough 2023 season that saw them shuffle through Pickett, Trubisky, and Rudolph.

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