While the Plaxico Burress signing has garnered most of the headlines around “Steeler Nation” over the last day and a half, Pittsburgh’s Front Office also added another player to their roster on Tuesday afternoon. Due to the team’s immense and dire need of depth at the Quarterback position, the Steelers signed former New England Patriot Brian Hoyer to their roster. Although the pick-up of Burress will be a more meaningful move as far as the 2012 season goes, I personally feel like the signing of Hoyer could be yet another solid move made by G.M. Kevin Colbert & The Front Office. In fact, I believe that Pittsburgh is actually an ideal setting for a Quarterback like Hoyer, and both parties should be able to benefit from the deal.
Hoyer (#8) could be a solid backup for the Steelers as they settle their Quarterback depth issue. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Hoyer’s Career (2009-2011)
So who exactly is Brian Hoyer, and where did he come from? Well for those of you readers unsure or unaware, Hoyer held the clipboard as Tom Brady’s top understudy in New England, and beat out three veteran Quarterbacks as an Undrafted Free Agent to make the team in 2009. Over his three seasons in New England, Brian saw only a small amount of game-time (27 for 43, 286 Yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 80.2 QB Rating, 1 Rush TD), but was nevertheless able to work in one of the best environment’s for a young Quarterback. It is not often that UDFA’s are exposed to the teachings and work-ethic of people like his Quarterbacks Coach/Offensive Coordinator Bill O’Brien and Ugg Spokesman and a Three-time Super Bowl winner like Brady.
Unfortunately for Hoyer, his time in New England ended prematurely and probably had everything to do with the rest of the then-Quarterback-needy teams passing on Ryan Mallett in the 2011 N.F.L. Draft. Mallett, a guy I believed was the best pure-passer and possessed the best potential N.F.L. skill-set (arm-strength and knowledge of passing game) in that Draft Class lasted until the end of the 3rd Round that season due to some character concerns. To their credit, the Patriots jumped at the chance to take a 1st-Round talent like Mallett so late in the Draft process, and used the luxury they had with Hoyer and Brady in front of him and allow their 3rd Round selection to develop. This season however, New England felt like Mallett was their Quarterback of the future. As the #3 Quarterback and set to make $1.9 million dollars (RFA Tender), Hoyer who became the odd-man-out this past August, and was cut.
How the Steelers & Hoyer Can Benefit
With Hoyer on the roster now, the Steelers can properly gauge how well the 4th year pro picks up the Offense and whether or not he can compete for a roster spot next season with six regular season games and an entire offseason under his belt. Remember, both Batch (38 years old in 2013) and Leftwich (33 years old in 2013) will be potential Unrestricted Free Agents next season, and I have a hard time believing that the Steelers would bring both if either of them back unless Hoyer is a complete and total flop. Plus, the former Spartan will have the chance to learn under Coordinator Todd Haley, Quarterbacks Coach Randy Fichtner, as well as Roethlisberger and maybe even one of the elder statesmen over the coming seasons as he continues his development. If Hoyer eventually succeeds and earns a backup spot with the team, he could definitely help to shore up Pittsburgh’s backup Quarterback position and entrench himself as “The Guy..Behind The Guy” (“Swingers” reference I know) as the #2 Quarterback on Pittsburgh’s Depth Chart.
Pittsburgh needed to find some way to bolster their depth at Quarterback in the present and in the future, and I believe this move to sign Hoyer can accomplish both goals. I simply want the Steelers to have some sort of capable, younger (sorry Charlie), and non-injury prone option to turn to if Roethlisberger ever goes down for a significant period of time in the future. Although the 6’2″ 215 lb. Hoyer is not an elite athlete, he has learned from some of the best Teachers and Students at the craft (O’Brien & Brady), and has displayed enough of a skill-set to establish himself as a legitimate #2 on an N.F.L. roster.
Whether it is Hoyer or somebody else, the Steelers need to have a non-injury prone/non-elderly backup option behind Big Ben sooner as opposed to later. This will be especially the case when Big Ben enters his mid-30’s and a decade-plus of hits and injuries begin to really take their toll. If this situation eventually happens and Roethlisberger goes down again, I earnestly hope that Hoyer, another Free Agent, or another Draft Pick can fill in and play adequately.
Hoyer has a golden opportunity to learn and continue to develop behind and under some of the N.F.L.’s best in Pittsburgh. With the uncertainty behind Big Ben, Hoyer will likely be given every chance to wrestle the #2 spot away from Batch and Leftwich between now and the beginning of the 2013 season as well. I am crossing my fingers that this deal works out well for both parties.
Chime in Readers: Will the move to acquire Hoyer help? What do you think of the move? Should Leftwich or Batch, or both be allowed to walk after the season? Should the Steelers sign/draft another Quarterback this offseason? The floor is yours…