Steelers Pressed to Sign $231 Million QB to ‘Absolutely’ Become Title Contenders

Mike Tomlin Kirk Cousins

Getty ESPN's Marcus Spears argued that if Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Kirk Cousins they would become instant Super Bowl contenders.

The Pittsburgh Steelers earned another playoff berth under head coach Mike Tomlin this season. But the team also made another first-round exit in large part because Pittsburgh’s quarterback play is not up to par with the AFC elite.

ESPN’s Marcus Spears argued on January 17 that the Steelers could change that and instantly become Super Bowl contenders with one major move this offseason — sign quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“You damn right they are. You are absolutely right, they are [a Super Bowl contender with Cousins],” Spears said on ESPN’s Get Up. “An explosive offense with Mike Tomlin is a Super Bowl contender. I guarantee it.”

When Cousins first suffered a right torn Achilles tendon on October 29, there was no guarantee that he would ever play again. He finished the season on injured reserve.

But his recovery is trending in the right direction, and Cousins is set to become a free agent in March.

Cousins signed a 1-year, $35 million extension for the 2023 season during the summer of 2022. Over his 12-year NFL career, he has earned about $231.7 million, according to Spotrac.

In eight starts this past season, Cousins completed 69.5% of his passes for 2,331 yards and 18 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.

How Kirk Cousins Could Fit With the Pittsburgh Steelers

With T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, the Steelers have the edge rushers to compete for a championship. The team is also hopeful safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and defensive lineman Cameron Heyward bounce back from 2023 injuries and can return close to All-Pro form next season.

The Steelers have young defenders such as cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and defensive lineman Keeanu Benton to support that nucleus as well.

On offense, the Steelers possess lots of young playmakers and a rookie offensive tackle.

With all that in mind, Spears argued Cousins would be the final piece to bring it all together.

“He [Tomlin] had to fire his offensive coordinator in the middle of the season, and they managed to get this team where they needed to be,” Spears said on ESPN. “He played with Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph as his quarterbacks. That’s all he’s missing [quarterback].”

Cousins will turn 36 years old in August, but he expressed confidence in an interview with Bleacher Report’s Scott Polacek that he will recover from his Achilles injury to be 100 percent in 2024.

In 12 NFL seasons, Cousins has recorded 4,000 passing yards seven times. He’s also made four Pro Bowls and thrown for 30 touchdowns in three campaigns.

Cousins made the Pro Bowl in 2021 and 2022 prior to his shortened 2023 season.

Will the Minnesota Vikings Allow Cousins to Leave?

Previously, the Vikings never allowed Cousins to enter the final year of his contract without an extension. The two sides agreed to extensions in 2020 and 2022, in both cases, with a year left on the quarterback’s current deal.

That changed when no new agreement was reached during the 2023 summer. But Cousins still sounds encouraged he won’t be changing teams.

“Hopefully we can make something happen,” Cousins told Polacek. “Time will tell. Unfortunately, the timeline is such that the playoffs have to process out and February has to play out with the Combine, and then we get to figuring all that out.

“With the sheer amount of time between now and then, you just kind of end up waiting around for March to turn when those conversations start to happen.”

However, even if Cousins reaches free agency, there are doubts about whether the Steelers would pursue the veteran quarterback.

When asked whether the team’s 2024 starting quarterback was currently on the roster, Tomlin answered “yes” during his January 18 press conference.

Tomlin also said Kenny Pickett would be the team’s top quarterback with competition pushing him. Cousins wouldn’t be competition, he would supplant Pickett at the starting job.

The Steelers could always change course, but signing a starting quarterback such as Cousins doesn’t appear to be in their current offseason plan.

Read More