Mike Tomlin recently addressed the quarterback position with the media in his post-season press conference. Here’s why all options are on the table for the Steelers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers season didn’t exactly end the way the team had hoped. Following the blowout playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, Mike Tomlin held his annual post-season press conference.
Fans were very interested to hear what the Steelers head coach had to say on many different topics: whether or not offensive coordinator Matt Canada would be returning, what personnel changes would be made, and which player could return in 2022. While Tomlin (expectedly) didn’t shed a ton of light on these topics, he did share his thoughts on the quarterback position.
Obviously, Ben Roethlisberger is going to retire this offseason and Pittsburgh is going to be looking for the next man up. In the presser, Tomlin was asked about his plan at the quarterback position and whether or not he would try to fill the void left by Roethlisberger through the NFL Draft or free agency. Here was his response during his post-season press conference:
"Right now, all options are on the table, but those decisions are interrelated based on our global needs and the totality of those global needs. I enjoy working with Kevin [Colbert] this time of year because we just speak plain English. We have to improve our football team. There’s two major ways you do it; you do it through free agency and you do it through the draft. And so we have to look at what’s available to us in the draft, positionally. We have look at what’s available to us, potentially, in free agency, positionally. And then we kind of bring those two discussions together and it kind of gives us a path in which to go about addressing our needs."
Tomlin was adamant about not closing any doors when it comes to the future of the quarterback position in Pittsburgh. However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport recently reported that the Steelers may not be willing to spend elite draft capital on acquiring a quarterback via trade, and the team would look to the NFL Draft to fill their QB need.
Later in the presser, the quarterback questions were once again brought up, and Tomlin reiterated his earlier thoughts:
"As I mentioned, I think it’s prudent and appropriate to be open to all of the above. There’s two core ways you improve your team, as I acknowledged — and that’s quarterback position or any position, or the totality of all the positions. You have to weigh what’s available to you in the free-agent market and the cost of acquiring it versus what’s available to you in the draft… I’m open to all of the above."
Tomlin certainly has a gift when it comes to beating around the bush. While I didn’t expect him to show his hand this early in the offseason, I think he knows more about the future of the QB position than he is willing to expose at this point in time.
Will Tomlin go with a mobile QB for Steelers in 2022?
Many have taken his comments to mean that the team will be content with deploying Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins as the starter in 2022. While this isn’t out of the realm of possibility, Tomlin likely wants someone with more upside — particularly when it comes to mobility and athleticism.
Towards the end of the press conference, Tomlin was asked about how important of an element it was to have mobility at the quarterback position. Here’s how he responded:
"Man, quarterback mobility is valued. Not only by me but everyone. It’s just a component of today’s game, and increasingly so."
This is not the first time we’ve heard Coach Tomlin express his love for mobile quarterbacks. In fact, this is something we have heard often in press conferences throughout the season. Tomlin knows the value of mobility at the QB position in today’s NFL, and he clearly wants that for his team.
What does this mean? If he’s keen on getting someone who fits this bill, that would rule out both Haskins and Rudolph. While these big-bodied quarterbacks have some functional athleticism, it’s not nearly at the level that can pose a threat to opposing defenses, as neither can consistently get outside the pocket or take off and run with the football.
If Tomlin truly wants a mobile quarterback in 2022, his options are going to be limited. Through free agency, only a few names come to mind that fit the bill: Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, and Tyrod Taylor — none of which seem like great stop-gap options.
For this reason, perhaps the plan is to build the QB position through the NFL Draft like the Steelers have done for most of their storied history. If this proves to be the case, Tomlin could pursue a player like Sam Howell, who has a big arm to go with young, production, and very good mobility. Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral could also be an option on the table, while the Steelers head coach could deem someone like Desmond Ridder or Kenny Pickett as athletic enough to man the position in the future.
We didn’t get enough information to know which direction Mike Tomlin and the front office will go this offseason when it comes to adding a quarterback, but at least we have an idea of what the Steelers are looking for. The free agency period will give us a great idea of the plan for Pittsburgh.