Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have placed quarterback Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve, there’s a very good chance that he’s played his final snap in a black and gold uniform.
Gradkowski, who will count $1,833,334 against the Steelers salary cap in 2015, is currently in the final year of the three-year contract that he signed in 2013. That means that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.
Should the Steelers not deem current third-string quarterback Landry Jones a viable back-up to starter Ben Roethlisberger heading into the 2016 league year, they’re likely going to have to find another veteran signal caller via free agency just as they did back in 2013. That is, of course, unless they’re able to re-sign Michael Vick, who was signed to the roster Tuesday to replace Gradkowski.
Gradkowski’s time spent with the Steelers was very uneventful as he only played a total of 10 meaningful snaps, all of which came last season. The Toledo product will turn 33 in January and being as he’ll likely be coming off of shoulder surgery, he might very well have a hard time finding a team willing to sign him.
Gradkowski was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He’s started 20 games during his career and has spent time on the rosters of the Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals in addition to the Buccaneers and Steelers.
Strangely enough, Gradkowski’s single-best game of his career came against the Steelers in 2009 at Heinz Field as a member of the Raiders. In that 27-24 win, Gradkowski completed 20-of-33 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. It was the only time during his career that he exceeded 300 yards passing in a single game.
While Gradkowski might not have played much while in Pittsburgh, he was the quintessential Steeler. He knew his role with the team and likely helped out Roethlisberger more than once in the film room. While his playing career might very well be coming to an end, one would think that he has a future in coaching, should that indeed be the path he decides to choose.
For now, Gradkowski remains a member of the Steelers and I expect he’ll be on the sideline providing another set of eyes for Roethlisberger throughout the season. Hopefully he can go out a Super Bowl champion.