There is absolutely nothing more life-affirming and invigorating than discussing a position battle for the number three quarterback on a team’s roster. Not only is there a very large section of fans who agonize over the decision, there is an equally large section of fans that will be sure to remind that it doesn’t matter who the third quarterback is, because if you’re using your third quarterback, you’re screwed anyway.
But the Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that always carries three, and that’s definitely going to be the case this year. In fact, it’s probable that every team will make an effort to carry three quarterbacks this year, because they would be screwed if they only had two and one of them became infected with the coronavirus.
This year, the Steelers return five quarterbacks who ended the season with the team in some form or fashion, including two who ended the year on the reserve/injured list, two on the 53-man roster, and one on the practice squad.
Ben Roethlisberger, of course, was one on reserve, but Mason Rudolph, the presume backup, also finished the year there after suffering a shoulder injury in the penultimate game of the season against the New York Jets.
That leaves Devlin Hodges and Paxton Lynch as the two primary candidates competing for the number three job, though Barrett also remains after having been added to the practice squad when Rudolph was placed on injured reserve. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner commented on Lynch and the number three quarterback position while talking to reporters yesterday.
“I know that, yes, there’s gonna be open competition” for the number three quarterback role, he said. “Yes, I’m excited about Paxton Lynch, and yes, I do know Paxton. I was at his Pro Day. I watched him play a lot…I’ve known and followed his career. I’m excited about this new opportunity for him. He’s just an exciting guy for me to see where he can go. Unfortunately, we missed those opportunities in the Spring, and he’s gonna have to make it go quick. And I think he will”.
Hodges was originally signed as a college free agent after being invited to rookie minicamp last year on a tryout basis. He performed well throughout the offseason, enough to keep him on the team’s radar, such that when they got the offer of a fifth-round pick for Joshua Dobbs, they accepted it knowing that Hodges would be an option to bring back in.
Of course, then Roethlisberger went down, leaving Rudolph as the starter and suddenly a rookie undrafted free agent as the backup. Hodges was originally signed to the practice squad, but promoted to the 53 with Roethlisberger’s being put on reserve. Lynch was subsequently signed to the practice squad, but later promoted.
Because of the great inexperience of the two quarterbacks ahead of him, the Steelers were hardly able to afford Lynch any opportunities in practice for most of the rest of the year, which is one of the reasons that they never considered him after Hodges was benched late in the year. Now with something of a ‘full’ offseason, he is ready to compete.