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How Much Would a Ryan Tannehill Contract Cost Steelers?

Ryan Tannehill won’t cost much, but just what is a realistic contract for the Pittsburgh Steelers if they sign him?



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec,. 19, 2021. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers might want a quarterback room of Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph, but since Rudolph is set to hit free agency, that is no guarantee. If they do not sign him, the obvious pivot would be Ryan Tannehill, who is set to hit free agency as well, and has connections to new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

But what would a Tannehill contract look like, and how much would it cost the Steelers? Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus has proven quite accurate at contract projections over the years. His idea for what a Tannehill contract would look like is 2-years, $11 million, or $5.5 million per year.

In an update on the quarterback market last Sunday, NFL Network insiders Tom Pelissero, Ian Rapoport, and Mike Garafolo compiled what they heard about each spot that could have quarterback attrition. It seems they are expected to explore adding Tannehill to the roster with Pittsburgh.

“With new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the expectation is Pittsburgh will explore adding free agent Ryan Tannehill, who had his best years with the Titans while Smith was the OC there,” they wrote.

All in all, the Titans had a successful season with Smith at the helm, including a trip to the AFC Championship, but things will be different this time. But that means, with Tannehill scheduled to be a free agent, he could end up coming to Pittsburgh.

Smith will be bringing in a new scheme and playbook. Getting Pickett up to speed in the new offense will be the new coaching staff’s first and most important job. There isn’t going to be a lot of time for them to be spreading his efforts around. 

So it makes a lot of sense if the second quarterback is someone that is already familiar with Smith’s offensive scheme and playbook. As the Steelers are likely looking to add a veteran, that new quarterback could be almost like a second quarterbacks coach — they need one of those as well — in the room along with Pickett and potentially another younger passer.

Even though he’s 35 years old, five years removed from his Pro Bowl appearance, and was hurt in 2023, Tannehill can still sling it.

In his three games after returning from injury late in 2023, he posted a 92.8 passer rating, 6.71 adjusted yards per attempt, and 70% completion percentage. All of those are better numbers than Pickett had in 2023. Tannehill was Tennessee’s starter from when Smith first inserted him until this season when he was usurped by Will Levis when he was out with injury.