The Pessimist’s Take – Tajh Boyd Pushing Landry Jones

While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.

No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.

With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.

In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.

Question: Does the Steelers’ signing of quarterback Tajh Boyd mean anything for Landry Jones?

Two days ahead of the official start of free agency, the Steelers have signed exactly one player from outside of their organization.

That player is former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, who had the luxury of throwing to two first-round draft picks at wide receiver during his career, not to mention the Steelers’ fourth-round draft pick last year, Martavis Bryant.

Boyd and Bryant are reunited, as Landry Jones and his former college teammate, Justin Brown, were reunited in 2013. Brown became a preferred target of Jones’ and helped ease him into the position, even if he has shown little growth since coming here. Yet he remains on the roster, while Brown was released.

Could Bryant help Boyd along in his development? That’s certainly possible, considering he helped Boyd look good in college. We covered after last year’s draft how Boyd’s throws were not making it easy for Bryant and the other Clemson receivers. It was the targets largely making the quarterback look good, in this case.

That quarterback has thrown for more yards and more touchdowns than any other player in ACC history, yet the sixth-round draft pick from 2014 was cut during the preseason a year ago and was not signed to anybody’s roster or practice squad. Instead, he spent 2014 playing in the Fall Experimental Football League, which had its inaugural season last year.

Reportedly, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert met with Boyd at Clemson’s Pro Day on Thursday, conveying the message that the team would like to sign him. Boyd traveled back to Pittsburgh with the Steelers’ brain trust, had his physical the next day, and signed the contract.

He was told that he is not being brought in to be a camp arm, that the team graded him highly coming out, and that they wanted competition this year for Jones.

But isn’t that basically the same thing they told Jerrod Johnson in 2012, John Parker Wilson in 2013, and Brendon Kay a year ago? It’s the same old song and dance. These are all marginal talents who will not make the roster. And Boyd isn’t likely to make Jones any better either.

Whether or not Jones makes the roster will be determined by his own abilities, not by any added pressure from a marginal talent who was told nice things by the general manager of the team looking to sign him as a camp arm.

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