Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones threw three touchdown passes in Sunday’s regular season finale win over the Cleveland Browns and while it was far from a perfect performance, it was good enough. With Jones currently scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent during the offseason, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked during his Tuesday press conference if the backup quarterback showed him enough against the Browns to make him want to keep him around.
“I like Landry, but I liked him prior to that performance,” Tomlin said of Jones, who threw for 277 yards against the Browns. “None of those personnel decisions, long-term, occur in a vacuum. It’s not just about an evaluation of Landry, or whether or not we want Landry.
“Free agency is what it is. It is musical chairs at times. There are limited numbers of spots, and oftentimes there are more candidates, and the salary cap elements of the discussion. All of those decisions are interrelated. They always will be, they always have been. People that suggest that you can make decisions in a vacuum that way are inaccurate or are misleading you.”
Tomlin’s response was on the money as while the Steelers might ultimately want to re-sign Jones during the offseason, a lot of factors will need to be considered before such a decision is made. Besides, if Jones doesn’t have his contract extended prior to the start of the 2017 league year, he will test free agency and might ultimately find a team willing to pay him more than the Steelers want to and perhaps even an opportunity to compete for a starting job.
The Steelers are seemingly prepared for Jones not to return in 2017 as they did claim quarterback Zach Mettenberger off waivers from the San Diego Chargers just prior to the start of the regular season. Mettenberger has since been the team’s No. 3 quarterback and has thus yet to take an offensive snap outside of team practices.
Should Jones ultimately wind up elsewhere in 2017, the Steelers can obviously address the quarterback position during the NFL Draft should they deem it necessary.
For now, Jones will remain the Steelers backup to Ben Roethlisberger and hopefully never need to take another meaningful snap throughout the playoffs.