The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t exactly go out and get their splash free agent the way most fans were holding out hope for, but they did at least manage to wrap up a couple of loose ends on their own free agency front with the re-signing of tight end David Johnson and backup quarterback Landry Jones.
Turns out, there seem to be a lot of people who aren’t too happy about these moves, with the latter in particular. Jones, a fourth-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, hasn’t exactly won the hearts and minds of the fan base as somebody who can develop into a legitimate starting quarterback, but that’s really not why he’s here.
And, by the way, the backups whom people think can “develop into a legitimate starting quarterback” get paid…a lot. See Mike Glennon. Or even Brock Osweiler a year ago with his free agent contract. He was paid franchise quarterback money based on hope.
Landry Jones is being paid backup quarterback money based on four years’ worth of history and film. Specifically, he is, according to reports, going to be paid $4.4 million over the course of the next two seasons, with only $600,000 of that coming in guarantees in the form of a signing bonus.
That is about $4.4 million more than some would have liked to spend in order to retain Jones, but those with a bit of a more realistic approach to this whole roster-building thing in which actual money is a factor probably weren’t terribly surprised when they heard the news, especially after getting wind of some of the other reported deals for comparable or alternative backup quarterbacks.
I don’t have ready access to the full list of reports that went flying about all throughout the day yesterday, but I do recall that even Matt Cassell, who is well past his prime and not even close to threatening anybody for a starting job, received a larger contract than the one that Jones received. It was the lowest value that any quarterback of any consequence has signed for up to this point.
It is in hindsight not exactly surprising the way that things unfolded. Jones reportedly wanted to at least wait to see if the phone would ring regarding any offers even entertaining the possibility of a viable opportunity to compete for a starting job, so when that predictably did not develop, he quickly turned around and re-signed in the most sensible place.
The good news is that Jones has actually shown improvement over the course of the past two seasons, and while you might not agree with me, I do believe that he has a competent skill set to serve as this team’s backup under normal circumstances.
On the plus side, this will ideally dissuade the front office from utilizing any of their draft resources this year on attempting to bring in another quarterback. With Zach Mettenberger still under contract for another year, they should still have their three quarterbacks for 2017.