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Shannon Sharpe Thinks Steelers Signing of Russell Wilson is Uninspiring



Pittsburgh Steelers Free Agent Target Denver Broncos QB Russell Wilson

On paper, Russell Wilson is indeed an upgrade over Kenny Pickett. But many wonder by how much? Where is signing a 35-year-old quarterback who’s on the downside of his career going to get the Steelers? A a wild-card round exit in the playoffs again?

Adding Wilson doesn’t really scream that the Steelers are Super Bowl contenders now, either. In fact, the Steelers’ Super Bowl odds went unchanged after agreeing to terms with Wilson.

Wilson had his worst season of his career in 2022, recording 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a passer rating of 84.4. He rebounded in 2023 with a solid season, however, posting a 26-8 touchdown-interception ratio and a 98.0 passer rating. Wilson’s not the same player that he was in Seattle, but his 2023 performance was definitely better than what the Steelers got from their quarterbacks last season.

Former Denver Broncos tight end and Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe thinks the Steelers signing of Wilson doesn’t really move the needle. Yeah, he’s better than Pickett, but that’s not really saying much.

“The question is, what Russ are they getting? Whatever the case that may be, that Russ they’re getting is better than Kenny Pickett,” Sharpe said on ESPN’s First Take.

Co-host Stephen A. Smith had a rebuttal and wondered why Sharpe was so lukewarm on the Wilson signing.

‘This is Kenny Pickett we’re talking about. Anything is an upgrade with the quarterback situation the Steelers had last year,” Smith said.

Sharpe responded, “Hold on! Bologna is an upgrade over potted meat. I don’t want either of one of them though!”

Eventually, the Steelers are going to have to find a long-term solution at quarterback. Wilson signed a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. Maybe he’ll have a resurgence under offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, but time will tell.

There are legitimate concerns about Wilson that have to be considered, though. Warren Sharp of Sharp Football noted that Wilson struggled with intermediate passing in Denver.

Per Sharp, Wilson threw 27% of his passes behind the line of scrimmage last season, the highest out of 509 QBs since 2005. He also threw 62% of his passes within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, the second-highest out of 509 QBs since 2005 (*509 QBs in sample with a min 300 attempts in a season).

“Sean Payton had no confidence in Wilson’s intermediate passing. The 2023 Broncos had the least amount of intermediate passing of any offense since 2005,” Sharp wrote on X. “Wilson threw just 26% of his passes between 5-15 yards downfield, the lowest out of 509 QBs since 2005. It was nothing but record breaking rates of underneath passes and the occasional moon ball downfield.”