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Steelers Defensive Stars Recruited Russell Wilson

New Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson was recruited to the team by the defensive leaders of the team.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Russell Wilson
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Russell Wilson at his introductory press conference, Mar. 15, 2024 - Nick Farabaugh / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have officially signed Russell Wilson. But the process for him to land with the team took a lot of work, in Wilson’s own words. Publicly, he met with the New York Giants and then flew to Pittsburgh to visit the Steelers. While doing that, he talked with Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan. But even before he got to Pittsburgh for a visit, those three were on Zoom for each other for over an hour and a half.

That was until Wilson received a call from someone on the Steelers trying to recruit him. It was star Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick challenged Wilson, asking him if he wanted to compete. Before landing in Pittsburgh for his visit, Wilson talked to not just Fitzpatrick but also FaceTimed with Cam Heyward and talked with T.J. Watt.

“I got to talk to Cam Heyward, talked for an hour on FaceTime,” Wilson said. “We got to talk, and it was this cool experience of a guy who’s been at the top his game for so long, but also a man whose made a difference in the community, a guy’s whose made a difference not just in Pittsburgh, but around the country and just all the things he’s done. He’s solidified himself as one of the best players on the interior in the game.”

While that was a cordial meeting between the two, Russell Wilson revealed that Fitzpatrick asked him if he was ready to compete and win football games. It was clear that the top group was recruiting Wilson to come play for the team.

The Steelers were able to meet with Wilson before the start of free agency because the Broncos gave him permission to talk to other teams after telling him that he will be released. Wilson has not had reported contact with any other team so far, though there is expected to be interest from other parties.

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

And when he first got to Pittsburgh, Wilson texted Pickett to foster a relationship early. By all reports, a competition will be had between the two players.

“I got to talk to him a little bit and I just told him, ‘Hey let’s go out there, let’s be the best version of ourselves to try to make this team better.”

Statistically, Wilson had a rebound in 2023 after a rough season in 2022. Last year, Wilson started 15 games for the Broncos, completing 297 of 447 passes (66.4%) for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions for a 98.0 passer rating and a 6.04 adjusted net yards per attempt. Wilson was benched by the Broncos for the stretch run, after a contract dispute between him and the team over his contract guarantee for the 2025 season.

Denver is just two seasons removed from trading for Wilson. The Broncos sent two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, quarterback Drew Lock, defensive lineman Shelby Harris and tight end Noah Fant to the Seahawks for Russell Wilson on March 16, 2022.

A Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler with the Seahawks, Wilson struggled in Denver. He posted an 84.4 passer rating in 2022, which was by far the lowest mark of his career, and was sacked a league-high 55 times.