The Pittsburgh Steelers' season flashed before their eyes on Sunday when Kenny Pickett went to the ground with a knee injury. The Houston Texans pressured the pocket all day long and Matt Canada controversially opted for a shotgun pass on fourth-and-short, rather than a run. Pickett was sacked and subsequently helped off the field before being ruled out.
After dropping to 2-2 on the young season, the Steelers face a potential dilemma. If Pickett is forced to miss an extended period of time, the AFC North is within reach. The Steelers' defense has been excellent on balance. The offense less so, but hey, defense wins championships.
Pickett has been billed as the future of the franchise in Pittsburgh. He's the hometown kid and his impressive preseason instilled a great deal of optimism in the fanbase. It has been a rocky campaign so far, but Pickett has the faith of his franchise and his fanbase. That's easier said than done.
There's a chance the Steelers simply let Mitchell Trubisky step into the starting role for as long as Pickett is out. He's a former No. 2 pick with years of NFL experience under his belt and a close working relationship with Pickett. There are worse backup QBs in the NFL.
That said, if the Steelers opt for a bold replacement instead, here are a few reasonable trade candidates.
No. 3 Kenny Pickett replacement for Steelers to trade for: Cooper Rush
Cooper Rush started five games for the Dallas Cowboys last season. He went 4-1, completing 58.0 percent of his passes for 1,051 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions on the entire season. He kept the Cowboys firmly in the postseason race when Dak Prescott went down. That's the goal for any backup QB.
At 29 years old, Rush doesn't have a ton of NFL miles on the odometer, but he has been around the league for a while (six years) and has performed when thrust into the spotlight. The Cowboys, however, traded for Trey Lance before the season. Most teams don't keep three QBs on the roster, especially after dealing real assets to acquire their "third-string" option.
If Jerry Jones has such a strong belief in Lance, to the point where he didn't even consult his staff before pulling the trigger, then why place another obstacle between him and true heir apparent status? Rush feels like the most expendable backup in Dallas and the Steelers could presumably nab him for cheap.
It's fair to wonder if Rush is better than Trubisky, but at least there's another competent option in the locker room with a proven track record of success. The Steelers won't swing for the more prominent starters with Pickett lined up as QB of the future, but there are backups around the league who warrant investment.