It’s likely to be several more months before we find out who the Pittsburgh Steelers will anoint as their backup quarterback to starter Ben Roethlisberger for the 2016 season. With that said, that spot is currently owned by Landry Jones by default being as two of the quarterbacks on the team last year, Bruce Gradkowski and Mike Vick, are currently unsigned unrestricted free agents.
Ahead of this week’s league meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked about the team’s backup quarterback situation for the 2016 season.
“Landry Jones came through big time for us last year,” said Colbert, according to Bob Labriola. “I think we went into training camp hoping for that to happen, and in all honesty, in training camp, you saw some flashes, but maybe not enough to really say he’s our No. 2. And then we get into the season, and he saved a couple of games for us.
“So that was very encouraging. He’s proven to be a viable backup on a short-term basis. Can he do that on a long-term basis? He has to prove that, and he’ll be the first to tell you he has to prove that. Bruce Gradkowski is coming off shoulder surgery, so we have to see where he is physically and whether or not we add him back into the mix.”
As you can clearly tell by Colbert’s comments on Jones, he both patted the young quarterback on his back and kicked him in rear-end. While he’s almost sure to be on the Steelers final 53-man roster in 2016, it’s still unknown if he’ll start the season as the team’s backup to Roethlisberger or the weekly third quarterback in charge of charting plays.
As we sit here in late March, the Steelers are unlikely to re-sign Gradkowski back until after the 2016 NFL Draft takes place. That’s not etched in stone, however, but with that said, the veteran is unlikely to get any offers from other teams until after June 1 as he continues to build back his arm strength.
As for Vick, who was signed last year during the preseason after Gradkowski went down injured, it will be very surprising if the Steelers re-sign him as he showed last year that his time in the NFL as a reliable backup is now over.
As for the Steelers potentially adding another quarterback in this year’s draft, it really appears as though they’re open to doing just that judging by what’s already taken place over the course of the last few weeks. For starters, they’ve already shown interest in a number of draft-hopeful quarterbacks at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine in addition to being present for a few of those player’s pro days. Leading that list of young quarterbacks, the Steelers have shown interest in is Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, who recently was arrested and charged with a DUI just few days after his pro day took place.
Even if the Steelers wind up drafting a quarterback, they would be wise to sign a veteran such as Gradkowski in the coming weeks and months in order to push all of the younger arms during training camp.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Jones is entering the final year of his rookie contract and that’s yet another reason why the Steelers might be inclined to draft another quarterback this year.