Quietly, the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to be lauded for their shrewdness in free agency to this point in the final offseason under General Manager Kevin Colbert.
With real, sizable, usable cap space ahead of free agency for the first time in nearly 22 seasons under Colbert, the Steelers were aggressive, adding five outside free agents in quarterback Mitch Trubisky, offensive linemen Mason Cole and James Daniels, linebacker Myles Jack, and cornerback Levi Wallace, while also retaining a number of their own free agents in cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, cornerback Arthur Maulet, defensive tackle Montravius Adams, safety Miles Killebrew, linebackers Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen, and center J.C. Hassenauer.
Just days into the official start of the new league year, the Steelers have been uncharacteristically aggressive, plugging a number of holes and giving the Steelers plenty of flexibility heading into the 2022 NFL Draft to be aggressive in their chase for a quarterback, such as Liberty’s Malik Willis.
The focus of NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund is on the Steelers’ signing of Trubisky though, calling the move — a two-year, $14 million deal with incentives up to $27 million — one of three “good fits” across the league, which seems to go against the louder early returns on the signing.
— NFL (@NFL) March 15, 2022
“This deal is a great pairing of minimal downside with lots of upside. Using last year’s QB contracts as a comparison, Trubisky’s annual salary would’ve ranked 28th,” Frelund writes. “This deal is also an alignment fit, as Next Gen Stats show that Trubisky’s 114.4 passer rating on throws of fewer than 10 air yards led the NFL in 2020 (his most recent year as a starter). Last season, Pittsburgh’s offense had the highest rate of pass attempts traveling fewer than 10 air yards at 71.9 percent. Trubisky can leverage those shorter passes into big gains — and ideally, the former No. 2 overall pick’s growth and development will allow the Steelers to include more difficult passing concepts.”
At face value, it’s an ideal fit moving forward in Pittsburgh in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era.
Trubisky brings a ton of starting experience (50 career starts, 29-21 record) and oozes the pedigree (former No. 2 overall pick) that the Steelers were looking for as a bridge quarterback, not to mention the mobility the former Chicago Bear and Buffalo Bill brings to the table.
Plays like these are what give you SOME hope for what Mitch Trubisky can do in Pittsburgh.
— Tyler Wise (@TriggeredWise) March 14, 2022
As Frelund points out, Trubisky thrived on throws shorter than 10 yards in 2020 — his final year as a starter — which fits in nicely in offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system, though some of that was due to a porous offensive line and the limitations Roethlisberger may have had in his final season.
It’s not a sexy signing, and it’s certainly not going to put the Steelers in Super Bowl contention, but what it allows the Steelers to do is have some stability under center for at least 2022, helping Pittsburgh exhaust all resources elsewhere to find that franchise quarterback in the 2022 or 2023 NFL Draft.