The Steelers did not address the quarterback position in the first week and a half of free agency, but that doesn’t mean the team will go into the season with just Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins behind Ben Roethlisberger.
One option for the Steelers to find a current backup and a potential quarterback of the future is in a trade. Sports Illustrated NFL insider Albert Breer suggested the Steelers could be a potential landing spot for current New York Jets starter Sam Darnold if New York decides to move on from the USC product.
The Jets hold the No. 2 overall pick behind the Jacksonville Jaguars and are expected to use it on a quarterback — either BYU’s Zack Wilson or Ohio State’s Justin Fields — leaving Darnold without a role.
The Jets drafted Darnold in the first round with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and he’s started 38 games for the team since then, but with the Jets firing general Mike Maccagnan and head coaches Todd Bowles and Adam Gase since picking Darnold, the team could be looking for a fresh start at the position.
The Steelers, meanwhile, brought Roethlisberger back for what appears to be a final season with the club by restructuring his contract, but as a result, will likely want to use their draft picks on ways to help make the team around Roethlisberger better this season.
“If the price is right they could see some similarities in how Darnold plays to how their own quarterback did in his early 20s, and throw Darnold in there to compete with Dwayne Haskins to be Ben Roethlisberger’s heir,” Breer wrote.
Darnold is entering the final season of his rookie contract, but after a trade, would count for only $4.77 million toward the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap. They have more than that amount of room after releasing starting cornerback Steven Nelson and re-working the contract of starting tight end Eric Ebron.
In addition to Roethlisberger, Rudolph is also entering the final season of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season unless he and the Steelers agree to an extension this summer.