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How the Steelers presesed the reset button in their QB room (and what’s next to continue building)

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By: Brandon Andrews

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Some major shakeups in Pittsburgh since the start of free agency…

What a week it’s been for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone was prepared for a quarterback battle to begin the week between Russell Wilson and Kenny Pickett. First, receiver Diontae Johnson was traded to the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. Then came Friday afternoon March 15, 2024, and Pickett was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles to be the new clipboard holder for the Eagles starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.

NFL: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers thought they found their next quarterback. Boy, were they wrong.

The Steelers selected Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and the fan base assumed the team had found its next franchise quarterback. Excitement was high, and he finally got in the starting lineup and away we went. There were multiple fourth-quarter comebacks and plenty of exciting moments. Underneath it all though, the statistics were terrible.

Pickett didn’t like being the backup quarterback. One could argue that he could have squashed the Steelers interest in any other quarterback by settling it on the field, but unfortunately, he failed this city, throwing just 13 total touchdowns over 25 career starts.

Granted, Steelers Nation was spoiled by having a franchise quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger for almost two decades. Going from such a high level of quarterback play, seeing the team reach three Super Bowls (and winning two of them) had the standard for play from the quarterback was rightfully set very high.

Then came the quote-unquote benching for now Tennessee Titans quarterback Mason Rudolph during the end of last season. Now Wilson has signed with the team, and that was Pickett’s final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. As the popular saying goes, “Bye, Felicia.” He was traded away, the Steelers will now move forward with Russell Wilson in the starting position.

What’s next for the Pittsburgh Steelers at quarterback?

Syndication: Journal Sentinel

After Wilson’s signing, the door looked closed for a trade to send Chicago Bears quarterback to Pittsburgh… but the Khan artist struck again. The Steelers quarterbacks room went from looking abysmal with Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph atop the depth chart to suddenly looking the brightest it’s been for some time now.

The Steelers trade for Justin Fields is perfect for him. He gets to sit and learn from Wilson for a season, and the Steelers can go from there.

Now, after the additions of Wilson and Fields, the Steelers also don’t have to use precious draft capital in 2024 to draft a quarterback, especially when the options aren’t great after USC quarterback Caleb Williams and UNC’s Drake Maye are off the board.

They learned their lesson with Pickett about drafting a lesser talent and over-projecting their future in the NFL. Wilson is the perfect mentor for Fields, their play style is very similar. For the first time in their history, the Steelers have an actual quarterback succession plan, well done. That doesn’t mean they don’t still have some holes to fill approaching the 2024 NFL Draft, however

Syndication: The Enquirer
Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Next up: Steelers should sign FA WR Tyler Boyd (Cincinnati Bengals)

The Steelers and receiver Tyler Boyd it makes just too much sense not to happen. It’s a perfect match, with his toughness and playing style fitting exactly what the Steelers want on offense, what they want their receivers to do, and how they want them to be as teammates.

A two-year $17 million contract would make sense for both sides and is in line with what has happened during the free agency period with other receivers. It would also allow the Steelers to keep the first-year cap hit lower.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Then, sign CB Xavien Howard (Miami Dolphins)

The Steelers should be on the lookout for additional help at the cornerback position. Enter Xavien Howard, the Steelers coverage in the secondary across from Joey Porter Jr. was putrid to be kind. The team couldn’t cover a basketball game for ESPN over there. While Howard has struggled with injuries recently, he’d be a nice running mate for Porter.

A two-year contract for $13 million would be a nice grab for the Steelers here.

Suddenly, with those two moves and a newly reconfigured quarterback room and most holes (beyond OL) having been addressed in free agency, this Steelers roster is looking up…

What’s next for the Steelers after free agency? The 2024 NFL Draft, of course. Check out my latest mock draft following Pittsburgh’s additions at quarterback to see how they continue building around their new-look roster.

Originally posted on Behind the Steel Curtain – All Posts