Russell Wilson didn't sign with the Steelers to be the backup quarterback

Despite the team's previous endorsement of Kenny Pickett, Russell Wilson did not sign to be a backup in Pittsburgh.

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos
New England Patriots v Denver Broncos / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

Steelers fans everywhere woke up to big news just ahead of the NFL's legal tampering period. Russell Wilson plans to ink a one-year contract with Pittsburgh. This news comes shortly after the Denver Broncos decided to release the nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback just two years into his five-year $245 million contract.

Wilson joins the Steelers with a decorated resume that includes a Super Bowl win. But after two of the worst seasons of his NFL career, he is signing with Pittsburgh for the veteran minimum.

The microscopic financial investment from Pittsburgh's front office makes this a low-risk move by the Steelers. However, after signing on a veteran minimum salary, many fans are wondering if Wilson is even guaranteed a starting role on the team in 2024.

Russell Wilson will be the starter for the Steelers in 2024

We don't know exactly what conversations Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan had with Russell Wilson during his visit to Pittsburgh, but I can tell you for certain that there wasn't a chance he was signing with the Steelers if they told him that Kenny Pickett was going to be their starting quarterback in 2024.

As recently-retired Steelers reporter, Ed Bouchette, posted on 'X' the morning after this roster move, "Russell Wilson did not sign with the Steelers to be their backup QB."

While Wilson is not guaranteed to be an upgrade over Pickett, there's no question that he is going to be the starter in 2024. Wilson has had a remarkable NFL career, and the team's misplaced confidence in Pickett won't be enough to keep him on the bench.

Strictly from a numbers standpoint, Wilson had twice as many touchdown passes in 15 games in 2023 (26) than Pickett has had in his two-year NFL career (13). It's also worth noting that Wilson's 98.0 passer rating last season is nearly 20 points higher than Pickett's career passer rating of 78.8.

The numbers don't tell the whole tale here. Wilson was not as good last season as the stats suggest, but being an upgrade over Pickett isn't a high bar to clear.

What it really comes down to is common sense. There's not a chance that Russell Wilson would have hitched his horse to this wagon on a veteran-minimum contract before free agency without a verbal guarantee from Coach Tomlin that he would be the starting quarterback in 2024.

Of course, if Wilson proves he just doesn't have it anymore and struggles, it's not impossible for the team to turn back to Pickett at some point during the season. However, it's very safe to assume that this roster move wasn't to simply 'add competition.'

Russell Wilson will be the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024.