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Steelers Analysis

QB Options the Steelers Could Look to Add after Kenny Pickett Trade

With the Pittsburgh Steelers trading Kenny Pickett, that means they will add another quarterback, but who just who could that be?



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 are now down to just one quarterback in their room, and Kenny Pickett is gone. Russell Wilson is the lone quarterback, meaning the room must be filled out, likely with another free agent or trade coming into the fold. But what are the options? Here’s a scan of the quarterback market in the free agency period.

Justin Fields

Sources told Steelers Now that the Steelers have an interest in Fields. But if this ultimately happens, it will depend on the price that Chicago wants another team to pay. What Chicago is realistically looking at is some pick swap deal or likely a day-three pick that could conditionally be turned into a day-two pick. That is something that teams might look to do, but general manager Ryan Poles has found a soft market for Fields and not one that will require a lush return.

Still, Fields makes a lot of sense for the Steelers. Fields is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and the Bears — or another team, if he’s traded — must decide this offseason if they want to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract. That would be a guaranteed $25 million contract for 2025. The Bears or another club could negotiate a traditional contract extension. That is the holdup here, but he brings excellent physical tools and upside, which this room lacks. If the price is right, Fields seems like a solid option and maybe the most likely option.

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Justin Fields

Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 9, 2021. — Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Ryan Tannehill

This would be an add of familiarly. Ryan Tannehill knows Arthur Smith’s offense in and out, and that is what makes him attractive for the Steelers.

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 Wilson up to speed in the new offense will be the new coaching staff’s first and most important job. There isn’t be a lot of time for them to spread his efforts around. So it makes a lot of sense if the second quarterback is someone who 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 in the room, along with Wilson and potentially a younger passer. 

Even though Tannehill is far diminished from what he is, as a backup, he could be the option Pittsburgh turns to if they want someone with a stable floor.

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

Josh Dobbs

This would and should not surprise anyone if this happens. Josh Dobbs is a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who fits Smith’s scheme in a few ways. For one, the designed quarterback run part of the game could meld beautifully with Dobbs. And Dobbs, who is a chaos player much like Wilson, does keep schematic continuity with Wilson.

Of course, there are downsides, one of which is that Dobbs is a highly volatile player. He can give you highs that most backups can not with his arm talent and dynamic ability on his legs, but his ability to remain consistent and keep the ball out of the opponent’s hands remains questionable. Again, there is not much upside with a signing like Dobbs in the long-term spectrum, but he is a plus scheme fit and familiar with the place.

Steelers QB Joshua Dobbs

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Josh Dobbs against the Cleveland Browns, Nov. 28, 2021 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now


Tyler Huntley

Someone the Steelers know very well, Tyler Huntley, has played against them a ton in recent seasons. Huntley can be dynamic on the ground but is a questionable processer sometimes, often leading to poor decisions that put the ball in harm’s way. But like Dobbs, he has the fit that could make Smith’s scheme turn, and Huntley wants to throw the ball over the middle of the field.

Unlike others on the list, Huntley is only 26 years old and could have some untapped upside. That makes him a unique candidate, though it is unknown how much Huntley will command on the open market. But with their apparent recent fascination with singing former Baltimore Ravens, Huntley would check that box, too.

Steelers Playoff Tyler Huntley

Baltimore Ravens QB Tyler Huntley against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dec. 11, 2022 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now


Well, other than these guys, the market is pretty scarce. I suppose you could go shopping for another young quarterback and maybe put a call into the Cowboys about Trey Lance. Or, if you want to see what is going on with the Jets and Zach Wilson, take your swing. Other veterans on the free-agent market include Blaine Gabbert, Carson Wentz, and Brian Hoyer. Yes, not an inspiring group. So, it would seem like the other quarterback outside of Wilson will come from those four names above. The third figures to come from the NFL Draft.