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Steelers Could Pivot to Ryan Tannehill after Kenny Pickett Trade

The Pittsburgh Steelers could pivot to signing Ryan Tannehill after the Kenny Pickett trade on Friday.



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 no longer have Kenny Pickett around after they traded him on Friday to the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, the team needs two quarterbacks to join Russell Wilson in the room, and while Justin Fields is the obvious name out there, there is still one other player who checks many boxes, too. That is Ryan Tannehill, who played for new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in Tennessee.

By all means, that seems to now be on the table if the team decides to fill their backup quarterback void with a sure-handed veteran rather than trading away draft capital to land Fields.

In any chance, what would a Tannehill contract look like, and how much would it cost the Steelers? Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus has proven quite accurate at contract projections over the years. His idea for what a Tannehill contract would look like is 2-years, $11 million, or $5.5 million per year.

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 going to be a lot of time for them to be spreading his efforts around. 

So it makes a lot of sense if the second quarterback is someone that is already familiar with Smith’s offensive scheme and playbook. As the Steelers are likely looking to add a veteran and a young quarterback, the first of those two new quarterbacks could be almost like a second quarterbacks coach in the room along with Wilson and potentially another younger passer.

Even though he’s 35 years old, five years removed from his Pro Bowl appearance, and was hurt in 2023, Tannehill can still sling it.

In his three games after returning from injury late in 2023, he posted a 92.8 passer rating, 6.71 adjusted yards per attempt, and 70% completion percentage. Tannehill was Tennessee’s starter from when Smith first inserted him until this season when he was usurped by Will Levis when he was out with injury.