Kevin Colbert had two goals this free agency. Add a veteran quarterback. Avoid spending draft picks to get him. With the addition of Mitch Trubisky, it’s mission accomplished on both fronts.
Pittsburgh’s first outside free agent was adding Trubisky to its quarterback room on a largely team-friendly contract that works out to be, practically speaking, a one-year test run. According to Colbert via this tweet from Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley, that’s the sweet spot the team wanted to hit.
Trubisky wasn’t the only quarterback the Steelers were connected to. Some in the media believed they were in the running for the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo. But acquiring him would’ve meant giving up at least a draft pick (and potentially more), not to mention taking on a heavier contract that likely would’ve called for an extension. While Garoppolo is the better quarterback than Trubisky, the cost to get him wasn’t worth it.
Colbert also praised Trubisky’s blend of experience (50 starts) and youth (still just 27 years old).
As the back half of Varley’s tweet notes, Colbert said the team could still draft positions they’ve added to in free agency. It’s standard operating procedure for the team, and they’ve double-dipped with veteran/rookie adds in the same offseason before. Signing Morgan Burnett before drafting Terrell Edmunds is one such example. Aside from perhaps OG James Daniels’ deal, no contract the team handed out is going to prevent them from adding a rookie at that spot. For Colbert and the Steelers, signing these players gives them proven, ready talent, so the team doesn’t feel obligated to draft “X” position during the draft, which causes teams to reach and not draft top talent.
Even after the Trubisky signing, the Steelers have shown every reason to believe they’ll aggressively pursue a quarterback in the draft. They’ve attended the Pro Days of top arms like Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis, Ole Miss’ Matt Corral, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. North Carolina’s Sam Howell has his workout tomorrow and Tomlin/Colbert are almost guaranteed to attend (Update: due to owner’s meetings, Tomlin won’t be there. Colbert still sounds like he’ll attend the workout).
Even if a rookie is added into the fold, the Steelers are likely to enter 2022 with Trubisky as their starter. What happens from there is anyone’s guess. But the Steelers don’t have much money – and no draft picks – tied to him, giving them the flexibility to change plans in-season or during the 2023 offseason.