Although we still have some time until the ball is kicked off next season, it’s never too early to start thinking about it. The Pittsburgh Steelers have many questions to answer before we make it to Latrobe in August. One of those burning questions is, who will be the backup quarterback? Kenny Pickett looked good in year one, and it’s his team. We saw last year that the guys love him.
The problem is that we saw Pickett get blown up several times last year, battling multiple concussions. Not good. Concussions only become more concerning as you start piling them up. Pickett’s subsequent concussion may result in him missing a few weeks instead of just one. The Steelers need someone ready to compete and keep them afloat in that emergency. With the impending cut of Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph almost certainly leaving in free agency, the Steelers will be searching for Pickett’s understudy.
It’s a pipe dream, but signing Taylor Heinicke would be a dream for Pittsburgh. Heinicke screams, Pittsburgh. A guy who’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. A blue-collar guy. Heinicke has been with Washington for the past three years. It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster, but he’s had his flashes. While it’s uncertain if Heinicke can make it as a starter in this league, we know he would make a dream backup.
Heinicke is the ultimate good vibes guy. Anyone whos ever been around him loves him. But, as a quarterback, it’s been a bit of a rocky road. Before finally settling in Washington, Heinicke bounced around a lot. He spent time in Carolina, New England, Houston, and Minnesota but couldn’t stick anywhere. Then he took his talents to the XFL to lead the St. Louis Battlehawks, what could’ve been his last chance to impress NFL teams. But, instead, it worked as it led to the three years Heinicke spent in Washington.
In his nine games this past season, Heinicke posted a 62.2% completion percentage on his way to 1,859 yards and 12 touchdowns. The season’s highlight had to be Heinicke and the Commanders ending division rival Philadelphia’s undefeated season. They celebrated the occasion by dressing Heinicke in flashy chains while he drank Busch Light out of his self-made garbage can cooler. We’ve seen Heinicke win games in this league. If the price is right, the Steelers have to pounce.
This journeyman quarterback is coming off a season that just may have been the revival he needed. Jacoby Brissett had a chance to start in Cleveland when the NFL dropped the hammer and suspended Deshaun Watson. While many didn’t expect much, Brissett did well. Maybe not well enough to be a starter, but a premier backup option.
Brissett led the Browns to a 4-7 record which might not seem significant, but it was more than anyone expected. He posted a 64% completion percentage with 2,608 yards and 12 touchdowns. Brissett also rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 49 attempts. The seven-year NFL veteran’s Calculated Market Value will be a one-year contract for $5.4 million. Very doable for Pittsburgh.
A world where the Steelers have two quarterbacks that wear two gloves? That’s the scenario we stare into here. All jokes aside, Teddy Bridgewater, is a solid quarterback. Suppose he’s your starter. Slightly scary. But he makes a great backup. He spent last year filling in for Tua Tagovailoa down in Miami, doing a decent job. Bridgewater gathered 683 yards in just five games for four touchdowns on a 62% completion percentage.
Bridgewater has bounced around quite a bit, playing for five different teams in his eight years in the league. But kids today won’t know how nasty Teddy-Two-Gloves was before his knee injury. He’s still a good quarterback and has done a great job adapting to a new play style to survive in this league. He dominated in college and was set to take over the NFL before the injury. But, seriously, watch the tape.
While this is maybe the least appetizing option of the bunch, old Red Rifle can still play. We saw Andy Dalton take the starting job from Jameis Winston last year in New Orleans. All things considered, he had a decent season. Dalton put up a 66.7% completion percentage with 2,871 yards and 18 touchdowns. All on a Dennis Allen-led team that seemed to lack an identity severely.
Although he’s an old AFC North rival, this might be something the Steelers look into. He could be cheap, considering his career is winding down now. Would he do that to Cincinnati, though? Who knows. Presumably, many teams will be after Dalton this off-season. If anything, he provides an excellent mentor to a young quarterback. He probably has many old war stories about his time facing the ferocious Steelers and Ravens defenses.
The Steeler’s backup quarterback for next season is not currently on the roster and will need to come from the outside. It could be a free agent, a late-round draft pick, or an undrafted free agent. As lovely as it would be for Mitch Trubisky to stick around, it’s not worth it for his price tag. He would be the perfect Charlie Batch for Kenny Pickett. He is a guy with experience to help guide his young quarterback. It just doesn’t seem doable with his contract, unfortunately. Happy Trails, Mitch!