Steelers considered predictable QB signing ahead of adding Russell Wilson

The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't had a star quarterback since the days of Ben Rothlisberger. They traded for Justin Fields and signed Russell Wilson, but they almost considered a frustrating alternative that likely would not have worked out in their favor.

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers
Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have been busy in addressing their deficiencies at the quarterback position.

After getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Buffalo Bills with Mason Rudolph as the starter, Pittsburgh went straight to work and signed veteran Russell Wilson to a one-year, $1.2 million contract before later acquiring Justin Fields from the Chicago Bears. The Wilson signing led the Steelers to trade Kenny Pickett to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, Pittsburgh has a solid tandem of quarterbacks to rely on as they go into the 2024 season. However, the Steelers almost went in a different direction entirely and actually considered a frustrating alternative.

According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the Steelers ultimately passed on Kirk Cousins after deciding he was out of their price range and considered signing Ryan Tannehill instead of Wilson to serve as competition for Pickett.

Steelers nearly considered frustrating alternative to address QB situation

Had the Steelers taken this path, it likely would not have gone over too well with the fans.

The team lost Mason Rudolph to the Titans on the first day of free agency but going with Pickett and Tannehill would not have been the right choice.

Pickett posted respectable numbers in 2023. The Steelers went 7-5 with him as the starting quarterback. He also completed 62 percent of passes and averaged 6.4 yards gained per pass attempt. But the Steelers needed something better.

Tannehill's numbers were similar to Pickett's. He went 3-5 as the Titans starting quarterback but completed 64.8 percent of his passes. He averaged seven yards gained per pass but only threw four touchdowns. He also threw seven interceptions.

The Steelers were smart to ultimately make a play for Fields and have Wilson as an insurance policy. They had considered Tannehill because they would have been able to reunite him with Arthur Smith, who had previously served as the Titans offensive coordinator with Tannehill during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Smith was recently hired to serve in the same role with the Steelers.

In his two seasons with Smith leading the offense in Tennessee, Tannehill threw for 7,553 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions while completing 66.4 percent of his passes and holding a 23-10 record as the starter.

Fields should be a solid starting quarterback for the Steelers, and having Wilson as a depth option certainly can't hurt either. But the Steelers made the right choice by doing this instead of trying for Tannehill, especially after having Mitch Trubisky replace Ben Rothlisberger years ago.

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