If it wasn’t already obvious, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be in the market for a mobile quarterback this offseason. If anyone is brought in, and it’s fair to assume someone from the outside will be added, expect that guy to be able to run in addition to throw.
Team President Art Rooney II spoke with the media Friday and made it clear how he feels about quarterback mobility. Here’s part of what he said via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor.
“Mobile quarterbacks are the wave of the future. Having mobility at that position is something that would be desirable.”
Throughout the season, Mike Tomlin has gushed over the benefits mobility offers a quarterback, bringing it time and time again and even spending his bye week researching the topic. Here’s just a collection of what he had said by late October.
As Rooney alludes to, many of the league’s top quarterbacks, especially recent and emerging stars, are mobile. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray, the list goes on and on.
Pittsburgh’s had about the league’s lost mobile quarterback the last two seasons in Ben Roethlisberger, a 38- and 39-year old passer with bad knees who had to get the ball out quickly. No QB has had a quicker snap-to-throw time in 2020 and 2021 than Roethlisberger, firing it out in about 2.3-2.4 seconds.
Rooney went on to say his ideal quarterback uses his mobility in a supporting role, not a leading one.
“You start with someone that can buy some time, that would be desirable,” Rooney said as transcribed by 93.7 The Fan. “I would say in terms of having a QB that is consistently a threat to be a part of your rushing attack. I’m not sure that is something I want to rely on, that you can rely game-in, game-out, season-in, season-out.”
“Having some mobility is important, the days of having quarterbacks that their biggest threat is running is probably not exactly what we are looking for.”
Several pending free agents fit that mobile description including the Raiders’ Marcus Mariota, Texans’ Tyrod Taylor, and Broncos’ Teddy Bridgewater. Mariota may be the most logical fit of all, a high-pedigree player who can run, used in red zone and specialty packages with the Raiders this season.
The draft also offers a mobile variety of players like North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. Their mobility varies to certain degrees, Willis is much more mobile than say, Pickett, but all are a step above what the Steelers have had.
Rooney also gave a fairly standard answer for what else he wants to see with the position.
“Complete a pass downfield” certainly carries some weight to it considering how poor the Steelers have been in that respect the last two seasons. Lack of a vertical passing game limited the Steelers’ offense. Some of that was on the receivers, line, and scheme, but some of that fell on Roethlisberger, whose arm has degraded over time.