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Mike Tomlin Already Revealed Steelers Plan at QB

If you want know what the Steelers’ plan at quarterback is, you really do not have to look far. Just look at Mike Tomlin’s words.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett warms up before his team's game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 3, 2023. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers are caught in the crosshairs of the national circles after on Saturday, it was reported that the team would not look outside the organization to land a quarterback, which was first reported by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. and Steelers Now was able to confirm that.

The Steelers have publicly committed to giving Kenny Pickett another shot as the team’s starting quarterback, though head coach Mike Tomlin promised that he will face competition for the role.

That competition apparently will not extend to signing a player that would come with an expectation of starting like Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields or Russell Wilson. The Steelers have been listed among the betting favorites to land both Fields and Wilson, but there are significant hurdles to each joining the team, beyond the Steelers having committed to Pickett as the starter.

But it’s not much of a surprise. The team has backed Mason Rudolph’s return in every public setting, but Tomlin’s words from his postseason press conference might ring the most. He did not hesitate to answer when asked immediately after the loss to Buffalo if the team’s starting quarterback in 2024 was on the roster.

“Yes,” Tomlin said.

That means, given Rudolph and Pickett were on the roster, it would be one of those two. But Rudolph’s situation is a little rockier than Pickett’s, who seems to have the inside hand to starting in 2024.

It seems likely that Rudolph will wish to test the waters and see what his options are around the league when free agency opens. The Steelers likely will not want to wait for that process to play out to make their own decision at quarterback.

So who does that leave if not Rudolph? The Steelers will likely look for another quarterback from the second tier of available options, such as Ryan Tannehill, Jacoby Brissett, Sam Darnold, Tyrod Taylor, Marcus Mariota, Drew Lock, Gardner Minshew, Tyler Huntley, Joe Flacco, Blaine Gabbert, Carson Wentz and Joshua Dobbs. Someone like that makes a lot of sense, or they could go out acquire a younger quarterback who will be on the outs like Mac Jones, Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell, or someone else.

The key here is that the team sees a step forward from Pickett. But what does an actual step forward look like for the Steelers and Pickett? Team president Art Rooney II gave a straightforward answer: points better start showing up on the scoreboard. Without that, there are no true signs of progress in the offense. While giving no concrete answer on the traits that Pickett must show, if he does improve, the points should come anyway.

“The next step, number one, would look like more points, week in and week out,” Rooney said. “Just being a more effective offense, continuing to do some of the things we were able to do this year in terms of ball control, being able to run effectively, but then add on top of that, scoring more touchdowns.”

The team’s unsettled quarterback position will continue to be a storyline to monitor for the Steelers throughout the 2024 offseason. Still, more than that, Pickett’s development will remain the biggest topic for the team’s future.