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Steelers Analysis

Why the Raiders, Not the Steelers Make Most Sense for Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson will make the rounds visiting teams, but it might be the Las Vegas Raiders who make the most sense.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson warms up against the Steelers, Oct. 17, 2021 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers are meeting with Russell Wilson on Friday as one of numerous teams holding meetings with the quarterback. The Giants met with him, and Adam Schefter reports that the Raiders and other teams will also explore a meeting with Wilson before the opening of the new league year.

The Steelers can meet with Wilson before the start of free agency because the Broncos permitted him to talk to other teams after telling him he would be released. Wilson has not had reported contact with any other team so far, though other parties are expected to be interested.

The Steelers are searching for competition for starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, and Wilson represents some of the strongest available competition on the open market. He could also come at a minuscule price, at least for 2024. The Broncos gave Wilson a guaranteed $39 million salary for the 2024 season, and any amount the Steelers or any other team would pay him would be removed from Denver’s commitments.

But it might be that a competition would take place that complicates things further. Despite not being what he once was, Wilson is still comfortably a starting-level quarterback, and with the Broncos on the hook for that $39 million, it is likely that Wilson is going to sign for near the veteran minimum. The sticking point in negotiations may come down to what happens in 2025 and beyond. Wilson will turn 36 during the 2024 season, and it’s uncertain if the Steelers or any other team will want to make a more-than-one-year commitment to the veteran passer.

But even if you look at just the 2024 season, is Pittsburgh the best option? There is a great argument to make they are the second-best option. Atlanta would argue, too, but it seems they are in on Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, or another avenue through the NFL Draft.

If I were Wilson, the best option would certainly appear to be the Las Vegas Raiders. They are the only spots that would likely be fully in that do not have any impeded path. Wilson would assuredly become the starter in 2024. That feels like a solid possibility in Pittsburgh, but the Steelers will give Pickett ample opportunity to show he can be that guy. However, Wilson would be the stiffest competition possible in that ‘competition’ the team has outlined.

Also, does Arthur Smith’s scheme cater to Wilson’s strengths? Not really. Luke Getsy, the Raiders’ new offensive coordinator, is coming off a season where he worked with Justin Fields, another quarterback who has struggled to attack the middle of the field. In other words, at least Getsy has the experience to build an offense around the patented ‘Russ-ball’ style that he would play. It feels more natural to slot him in there than in Smith’s under-center, play-action-heavy offense that attacks the middle of the field.

Of course, this is one of the main questions about Pickett and Smith marrying the scheme together, too, but he is a young player who the Steelers are trying to foster growth; meanwhile, Wilson is who he is, and you know who he will be. From the Steelers’ point of view, Wilson makes a lot of sense in that he is a successful veteran who provides apparent security.

But from Wilson’s perspective? The Raiders provide a clearer path to the QB1 job, and the offensive coordinator he would be working with runs concepts and has experience in a system with ideals surrounding Wilson’s strengths more naturally. Pittsburgh could end up landing Wilson, but ultimately, don’t be surprised if he lands in Sin City as their new starting quarterback for 2024.