Rooney Believes Teams Can Compete With Rookie Or Veteran QB

Pittsburgh Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II spoke to a few select reporters Thursday afternoon, giving his perspective about the 2022 season and hit on several key questions asked by reporters including the retention of OC Matt Canada for another season, the progress of QB Kenny Pickett, and his positive outlook on how the team finished 7-2 down in the second half of the season, avoiding HC Mike Tomlin’s first losing season while nearly sneaking into the playoff hunt.

Rooney was also asked if he feels pressure to contend for a title right now with QB Kenny Pickett cheap on his rookie contract. Rooney rebuffed the statement, stating that a team can win with either a young quarterback or a veteran quarterback as long as it’s the right quarterback.

“I would be hesitant to say that just because you have veteran quarterback, you can’t compete,” Rooney said on 93.7 The Fan. “You just kind of build the best roster you can with what you have and the fact that you have a quarterback on a rookie deal doesn’t hurt. But in terms of sort of talking about that as the direction the league’s going in, that that’s what you need to have… a quarterback on a rookie deal, I’m not going to say that’s what you need. I mean, you need a good quarterback whether he is a rookie or a veteran.”

Kenny Pickett is currently on a four-year deal worth just over $14 million with a fifth-year option. He had a base salary of $705,000 in 2022 with a cap number of $2,557,801. His projected cap hit next season comes out to $3,197,251 via OverTheCap.

Considering the current rate for franchise quarterbacks, Pickett’s contract looks like a bargain compared to players like Russell Wilson making $49 million/year or Derek Carr making $40 million/year now that he looks to be getting traded in the coming weeks. However, the NFL is a business and the QB position is the most important position in the game, causing their market rate to skyrocket in recent seasons. Having a QB command nearly 20-25% of a team’s total cap space can make life difficult regarding a team’s ability to surround him with enough talent on both sides of the football to succeed, making many believe the way to win is to get a QB on a rookie deal and stack the rest of the roster around him.

Still, the Pittsburgh Steelers have shown the capability to do both, winning Super Bowl XL with Ben Roethlisberger on his rookie deal back in 2005 and then winning Super Bowl XLIII the same year Ben agreed to a six-year extension worth $87,986,500 per OTC.

Like Rooney said above, it’s all about roster construction and building the best team you can to support either a rookie QB or a veteran QB. Regardless if the QB is a rookie or a veteran, that QB needs to be a franchise guy capable of leading his team into the playoffs, winning playoff games, and contending for Super Bowls. Ben Roethlisberger proved to be that guy over the course of his 18-year NFL career, and now, it’s Kenny Pickett’s turn to show Rooney and Steelers Nation that he can be that caliber of quarterback as well.

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