2023 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Be Flexible About Carrying 3 QBs On 53-Man Roster?

With the Steelers well into their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? How might they tackle the NFL Draft? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Will the Steelers show some flexibility about carrying three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster?

I’m not sure if there are other teams out there who have taken a hard and fast approach about rostering three quarterbacks, though there are some that typically will carry three. Many, if not most, have most frequently shifted to carrying only two on the 53-man roster with a third on the practice squad.

The only time the Steelers deviated from this was in 2019, when they traded Joshua Dobbs and then signed Devlin Hodges to the practice squad, though it’s entirely possible they had intentions of bringing him up to the 53-man roster.

Then, of course, Ben Roethlisberger’s arm fell off, Mason Rudolph became the starter, Hodges was promoted to backup, and Paxton Lynch was signed to the practice squad to be the number three, though technically he was the fifth option at that point. And he was later signed to the 53-man roster.

But while Mike Tomlin is still here as head coach, the front office is different, and they do have more than zero say in how things are run. In this particular year, they have an established starter and backup in Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, respectively, which helps the cause of carrying only two quarterbacks on the 53.

And right now the third quarterback is undrafted rookie Tanner Morgan, though of course that can change. But what if we get to the end of the preseason and no third quarterback clearly jumps out at the coaching staff as meriting a roster spot? How worried would they be about losing a Tanner Morgan off waivers?

To tell the truth, I’m not expecting any change from what we’ve seen. Either Morgan or somebody else will be on the 53-man roster, maybe a veteran they add at a later date. But change always presents some variables, so I wouldn’t rule it out entirely.

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