With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: QB Bruce Gradkowski
Stock Value: Even
If we’re talking about comparing exactly where Bruce Gradkowski was a year from now to where he is right now, then his stock would be down. But considering his tumultuous, injury-plagued season, and his recent re-signing, he seems to be hovering around even right now.
The difference between this upcoming season and his previous three seasons in Pittsburgh is the fact that he will likely have to compete in order to retain his backup quarterback spot, which he has held consistently behind Ben Roethlisberger right up until his injury.
The funny thing is, of course, that during his two healthy seasons, Roethlisberger actually stayed healthy, so he never really got a chance to play. In 2013, Roethlisberger played every single snap of the year. In 2014, he missed seven regular season snaps during a blowout, and Gradkowski relieved him to hand the ball of seven times.
During the Steelers’ Wildcard loss, Roethlisberger was briefly sidelined with what nobody will ever convince me was not a blow to the head, and he likely should have remained out for more than three snaps. But Gradkowski inherited a third-and-long situation, which he converted with two completed passes, and then he put the ball in play for an end zone shot that had a reasonable chance of success before Roethlisberger promptly returned and threw an interception.
The only reason that he was not the backup last season, of course, was the fact that he suffered multiple injuries. That is why the Steelers went out and signed Mike Vick rather than handing the spot to Landry Jones. Of course, that turned out to be a bad idea.
Now that Jones has some experience, he also has some tape, and some confidence, running the team, and that likely parlays into him being given the opportunity to compete with Gradkowski for that backup position.
Gradkowski, after all, will be guaranteed nothing after already suffering from a weak shoulder during the offseason last year. First and foremost, he has to prove that he is fully healthy, even though he showed himself healthy enough to merit a contract.
It was never a sure thing that he would ever see a second contract, of course, even a one-year deal. Jones was supposed to have clinched the backup position by now. that Gradkowski is still here and competing for the opportunity to back up Roethlisberger says as much about him as it does about Jones, and about the team’s backup situation as a whole.