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Assessing The Steelers Free Agent Alternatives: Third-String Quarterback

So far in this series we’ve tackled the Pittsburgh Steelers running back position and offensive tackle position. Of course, the one position that may need better competition the most is at quarterback. It goes without saying that Ben Roethlisberger is locked in as the starter for years to come. Additionally, Bruce Gradkowski is an average, yet serviceable, backup quarterback, who seems fine in his role. As far the third-string quarterback spot goes, however, there’s currently a lot of talk about that position. So far, Landry Jones has been lackluster and his reportedly poor showing at OTAs lends one to believe that his time in Pittsburgh might come to an end soon. Unfortunately, the competition brought in to push Jones is either very mediocre in Tajh Boyd, or is looked at as a slash player in Devin Gardner. With the competition seemingly not that great, it would be nice if the Steelers brought in another quarterback to compete for a roster spot, or at least, make whoever holds the clipboard this season earn his spot. With that said, let’s take a look at who’s available and if any of those guys would provide better competition than the players they have right now.

Jason Campbell – The former Washington Redskins first rounder hasn’t quite panned out the way many hoped when he came out of Auburn. However, his missteps as a starter aside, he has carved out a niche as a serviceable backup quarterback in the league. Personally, I think Campbell’s been one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL overall. With that said, at age 33, Campbell is sitting on the couch currently. Of course, that’s because he wants to. He has reportedly rejected deals from the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals among others due to his possible retirement. While I think Campbell still has value as a backup quarterback, he’s struggled with injuries in his career and I think he will end up retiring.

Keith Wenning – A former 6th round pick by the Ravens, Wenning’s only action in the NFL so far came in the preseason against the New Orleans Saints, completing 8 of 13 passes for 117 yards. After that game, he was cut and put on the practice squad. Although he wasn’t retained for the 2015 season by the Ravens, at age 24, he still may be able to compete in training camp. Out of all the guys on this list, Wenning would be the guy that would make the most sense for Pittsburgh to bring in. With that said, now that the Steelers reportedly have five camp arms with the aforementioned Gardner getting reps at quarterback, it wouldn’t make sense to further crowd the depth chart unless you released either Boyd or Gardner. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind Boyd being released, but I doubt it happens before camp. In any case, if Pittsburgh has any doubts about Jones, Boyd or Gardner’s NFL ability, they should give Wenning a call to compete in camp.

Ryan Lindley – The only player on this list that started a playoff game last year, Lindley may be a bit of a surprise to be without a job until you look at the stats. So far in Lindley’s career, he’s thrown two touchdowns, 11 interceptions and posted a 50.3 quarterback rating. Not to mention his historically bad playoff performance, in which he posted a 44.3 quarterback rating and led the Arizona Cardinals to an NFL playoff worst, 77 total yards of offense. Even as a backup quarterback, I still don’t want to bring this guy in. There’s a reason a 25 year old quarterback with starting experience is sitting on the couch right now.

Best of the Rest:

Jordan Palmer– Best known as Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer’s younger brother, Palmer’s career includes 59 passing yards and two interceptions. At the age of 31 and seemingly no interest from any NFL teams, it might be time to hang it up for Palmer.

Cole Stoudt – Stoudt has an interesting tie to the Steelers as his father is none other than former Steelers quarterback, Cliff Stoudt. In addition, Stoudt also backed up Boyd at Clemson. He’s already been cut by the San Diego Chargers after going undrafted, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t be brought in to compete. Yet, as mentioned in the Wenning breakdown, the Steelers would have to release someone to make room for Stoudt, something they are unlikely to do.

I hope this series has made people understand why the Steelers haven’t made any moves regarding these positions after the draft. I may do one more altogether “best of the rest” post if I can find enough interesting free agents to talk about. Till my next post, thanks for reading.

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