Buy Or Sell: Tanner Morgan Will Be Steelers’ No. 3 QB On 53-Man Roster

With the Steelers’ 2023 offseason underway following a disappointing season that came up just short of reaching the playoffs, it’s time to begin reloading, through the free agency process, through the draft, and perhaps even through trade.

This is now a young team on the offensive side of the ball, though one getting older on defense. Both sides could stand to be supplemented robustly, including in the trenches—either one. Changes have been made to the coaching staff, even if not all of the desired ones, as the roster continues to renew with the weeks ticking by.

These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).

Topic Statement: Tanner Morgan will be on the 53-man roster in September as the Steelers’ third quarterback.

Explanation: With very rare exception in unique circumstances, the Steelers for decades have maintained a policy of rostering three quarterbacks. While many teams have preferred to carry two with a third on the practice squad, Pittsburgh likes to have guaranteed control over that player, and their history of having needed to use three (or more quarterbacks) helps explain why. At the moment, rookie college free agent Tanner Morgan, signed after the draft, is one of only three quarterbacks on the 90-man roster.


While it might not seem like much relative to what NFL players earn, the fact that the Steelers gave Tanner Morgan a $25,000 signing bonus on his offer speaks volumes. It’s not the amount itself but rather the urgency with which they signed him. That’s a high bonus for them, so it shows how important it was for them to lock him in.

Though Morgan’s college career seemingly ended up as one of more stops than starts, he did perform well back in 2019 when he was in a better set of circumstances. He will have a similar environment in Pittsburgh in 2023, which will provide him the platform to maximize his abilities and earn a spot on the 53-man roster.


We already know the Steelers are not done adding quarterbacks this offseason because they’ve said as much. They bring four quarterbacks to camp and they still need to add another. They’ll likely have a couple in rookie minicamp as tryouts, one of which they may sign.

It’s equally possible that they will target one of the better quarterbacks to come out of the XFL or USFL. They will take Morgan to training camp, but given his recent track record, there’s no compelling reason to think he will look more like his 2019 tape than his tape since then.

Morgan may end up being the third quarterback when all is said and done, but he may be on the practice squad instead of the 53-man roster. If he were to make the team, he may be the least deserving third quarterback—the most to make the team by default—in many, many years, and with a new front office, their line of thinking may be more flexible. Practice squad flexibility also makes it easier and more appealing to leave that third quarterback there. You can elevate him for a couple games if needed without needing to sign him to the 53-man roster and then send him back down, subjecting him to waivers.

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