After getting eliminated from the first round of the NFL playoffs, it's safe to assume that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be looking for strong competition at the quarterback position in 2024. Mike Tomlin just witnessed Patrick Mahomes win his third Super Bowl, and he knows he can no longer settle for mediocrity at the QB position.
The first opportunity to find an upgrade could come as soon as March 11th when the NFL legal tampering period opens up. Justin Fields has been a name frequently rumored in connection with the Steelers because of their need at quarterback, but there's another potential fit that seems very possible.
Recently, Sports Illustrated senior writer Conor Orr wrote an article depicting one bold prediction for every NFL team. Orr kicked things off with the AFC North and believes the quarterback Ryan Tannehill will start at least four games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024.
"This isn’t an anti-Kenny Pickett take, but it is an acknowledgment that the Steelers have some pressure to perform, they play in a tough division and were aggressive in pursuing Arthur Smith when Smith was let go by the Atlanta Falcons. Mason Rudolph is a pending free agent, and while he may end up possessing a higher upside than [Ryan] Tannehill, the Steelers could find some Tommy Maddox-style magic in the arm of the former first-round pick."- Conor Orr via Sports Illustrated
Tannehill has already been a popular topic of discussion among Steelers fans -- many of whom don't believe he would offer a big enough upgrade over what the team currently has in Kenny Pickett.
As Pickett is getting set to enter his third NFL season and will turn 26 years old shortly after the 2024 NFL Draft, Tannehill has a full decade on him and he will turn 36 years old before training camp. It's also worth noting that the seasoned veteran quarterback has dealt with injuries in each of the past two seasons.
Tannehill to the Steelers feels realistic
However, many fans and analysts keep coming back to the fact that Ryan Tannehill played the best football of his NFL career during a two-year stint from 2019 to 2020 with Arthur Smith as his offensive coordinator.
If Tannehill joined the Steelers during the 2024 free agency period, he could end his career with the coach who helped bring him his most successful stretch in the NFL. We have seen the veteran work very well with Smith in the past, as he was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league in both 2019 and 2020.
In some ways, Orr's 'bold prediction' hardly feels bold at all. Both Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II expressed that they will bring in the quarterback competition in 2024, while NFL Network reported that Mason Rudolph is looking for a fresh start.
While he might not be the most appealing option for the fanbase, Ryan Tannehill makes a lot of sense knowing what Tomlin and Arthur Smith are likely to look for at the quarterback position. If Tannehill is added to the roster, we have to assume that Pickett would still be given the opportunity to show that he is the QB who will lead this team before they are forced to turn to the aging veteran.
Still, I can certainly see a scenario where Ryan Tannehill ends up starting four games for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2024. If you are hoping the Steelers make a bigger play for an impact quarterback this year, you might want to brace yourself for impact. This feels like the most likely route.