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Steelers Projected to Land Ryan Tannehill

The Athletic believes the Steelers will run a competition between Kenny Pickett and Ryan Tannehill during training camp.



Pittsburgh Steelers Tennessee Titans 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 want to see Kenny Pickett in action again in the 2024 NFL season. But they need someone to add competition, and with no guarantee that Mason Rudolph is coming back into the fold, they have to consider at least the possibility of who else is out there. And the obvious name is former Arthur Smith quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

In their quarterbacks’ prediction article, the Athletic believes that the Steelers will end up with a Pickett against Tannehill competition in Latrobe this season.

“The Steelers are telling everyone who will listen that they want to run it back with Pickett and Mason Rudolph. (Exciting!) But it’s also lying season and Pittsburgh just hired Arthur Smith as its offensive coordinator, so a marriage with Tannehill makes a lot of sense. He’s 35 and not the same player anymore, but he can still be an OK starter and at least push Pickett — who is probably the Steelers’ preferred starter if he can finally live up to his first-round billing. Maybe they still bring back Rudolph, too, and have a free-for-all quarterback competition,” they wrote.

In any chance, 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.

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.