Just weeks away from the official start of the new league year in the NFL and the start of free agency, expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to be active in searching for a quarterback on the open market.
The Steelers, General Manager Kevin Colbert, and even team owner Art Rooney II have hinted at the Steelers adding to the quarterback room in some form or fashion, considering Mason Rudolph is the only quarterback currently on the roster.
Expectations remain that the Steelers will tender Dwayne Haskins, meaning he’ll be back in Pittsburgh for a second season, but a combination of Rudolph and Haskins won’t block the Steelers from adding to the room, whether that’s via trade, through free agency or in the 2022 NFL Draft. According to CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, the Steelers should add to the quarterback via free agency and the NFL Draft, identifying two names for Pittsburgh to keep an eye on.
According to Benjamin’s projection, the names aren’t new, but they certainly are intriguing for the Steelers moving forward.
Those names? free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota and rookie quarterback Sam Howell.
“Pittsburgh management has made it clear the Steelers will throw several darts at QB in the wake of Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement,” Benjamin writes. “And while Mason Rudolph remains in tow, Mariota offers more of the mobility they’d like to incorporate into an offense built around Najee Harris. Howell, meanwhile, would give them added competition as a Day One or Day Two investment.”
Mariota makes a ton of sense for the Steelers, considering the mobility he brings to the table, as well as the experience as a starting quarterback in the NFL. While he hasn’t held down a true starting role in the NFL in the last three years after spending the last two in Las Vegas with the Raiders, he’s had some success in the past as a dual-threat starting QB.
Add in the fact that he’d be relatively affordable on the open market — Pro Football Focus projects a one-year, $8 million deal for Mariota in free agency — and its quite clear why the Steelers could be interested.
Aside from Mariota in free agency, Benjamin has the Steelers drafting North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell, but does not specify if that’s in the first round or at some point on Day 2.
Howell’s a name that’s been kicked around regarding the Steelers dating back to early last season, considering Colbert was seen multiple times attending UNC games to scout Howell in advance. Though the UNC quarterback’s name might not be the hot commodity he was leading into the 2021 regular season, Howell brings some great traits to the position, including his impressive arm strength and accuracy, as well as his power as a runner.
It feels like Howell will slip down boards, which could make for an easy, smart investment by the Steelers.