Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that if the season began today, former third-round pick Mason Rudolph would be the team’s starting quarterback. Well, duh, that’s because he is literally the only quarterback the organization has under contract right now. The Steelers have already indicated that they plan to tender former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins as a restricted free agent, but that still leaves room for two new quarterbacks.
“Where those others come from is going to be the big question—whether it’s going to be a veteran in free agency or maybe some kind of small trade for a veteran and/or a draft pick,” said Ed Bouchette of The Athletic, while appearing on The Rich Eisen Show on February 24.
Ed Bouchette: Not a ‘Big Swing’ at QB, But a ‘Check Swing’
Asked if the Steelers would take a “big swing” at quarterback to try to keep up with the Bengals, Ravens and Browns, who employ Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield, respectively, Bouchette said: “I don’t see them taking the big swing, I could see them taking a check swing, if you will,” which got a laugh out of Eisen.
What qualifies as a “check swing” for a quarterback?
“I’m talking Minshew (or) some of those free agent guys who are around,” he added, making reference to Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew II, a former sixth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2019), who is entering the last year of his rookie contract and could be available via trade.
In Bouchette’s estimation, the Steelers will be guided by two principles as they look to add a veteran QB. First, they won’t be signing one to anoint as their starter; almost any acquisition they make would have to compete for the starting job. Second, they won’t give up a lot of assets in a trade, which is why it’s extraordinarily unlikely that the Steelers make an offer for, say, Aaron Rodgers.
“They are not going to give up a lot of capital to bring in a big-name quarterback, but Jameis (Winston), depending on the deal … I could definitely see someone like that coming in,” said Bouchette, referring to the former No. 1 overall pick (2015), who some NFL analysts regard as the “best fit” for the Steelers.
What About the Steelers Drafting a QB in the First Round?
As for the organization using a high draft pick to select Liberty quarterback Malik Willis: “I would say anything’s possible, but I don’t see them drafting that guy in the first round,” said Bouchette, perhaps implying that they might consider him later in the draft, if he were still available, much like Kordell Stewart was available to the Steelers in the second round in 1995.
“I think they will either muddle along this year with Mason Rudolph and/or Haskins and/or someone else as a veteran and then get another quarterback next year,” Bouchette added.
But if the Steelers were going to use a first-round pick on a quarterback, he says, the most likely option would be Kenny Pickett of the Pitt Panthers.
“That’s the guy I think they would want,” he concluded.
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