Prepare yourself for silly season, because it’s now upon us. Even though it’s patently obvious that the Pittsburgh Steelers at no point during this offseason will be adding either Cam Newton or Jameis Winston, those on the outside still continue to choose to connect the dots to the ‘Burgh, the latest being Pro Football Focus. Not arguing that it will happen, but that it should.
In one article, though, they do list the Steelers as one of the potential landing spots for Newton, who was recently released by the Carolina Panthers. While he is reportedly healthy, he went through the 2019 season dealing with a significant ankle injury that kept him from playing.
If Big Ben either isn’t good to go in 2020 or isn’t the same great quarterback we once all knew, Pittsburgh doesn’t have a reliable option behind him. Among 39 quarterbacks who took at least 150 dropbacks in 2019, Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges ranked 37th and 39th, respectively, in PFF passing grade.
It should go without saying that neither Mason Rudolph nor Devlin Hodges played at the level that you would like to see from your backup quarterbacks, even though they did go 8-6 combined as the starters of record, with Rudolph 5-3, so at least from that perspective, things could have been worse.
Still, even if the Steelers wanted to add a veteran quarterback—and all indications, those being the literal words of the people in charge—suggest that they are not interested in doing so, the simple fact of the matter is that they don’t have the cap space to afford any kind of meaningful contract that a Newton-type player would be looking for as a former MVP.
In another article, the site lists the Steelers as the ‘ideal fit’ for Winston, who is an unrestricted free agent after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided not to continue their relationship with their former first-round pick, having landed Tom Brady. And yet the entry begins by saying “this is not a perfect fit”.
The deal would have to be cheap, as the Steelers sit with just over $10 million in cap space per Over the Cap, but we saw Marcus Mariota sign with the Las Vegas Raiders at just a $7.5 million cap hit next season. The Steelers don’t have a long list of needs heading into next season after retaining Bud Dupree and signing players such as Stefen Wisniewski and Eric Ebron at areas of need on very reasonable deals. Addressing the quarterback situation behind Roethlisberger should be top of the list, and if they can get Winston at a cheap-enough price, it’s a fit that I like for both parties. If all goes well, it would give the Steelers a potential successor to Roethlisberger after his deal runs its course.
The article notes that the market for Winston is reportedly ‘ice cold’ after he became the inaugural member of the 30-touchdown, 30-interception club in 2019. Yet I can’t imagine how low his market value would have to go before the Steelers would even look to sign him.