Signing Russell Wilson is another move for Steelers new mediocre standard

Dec 16, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA;  Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3)
Dec 16, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) / Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

It was announced that veteran quarterback Russell Wilson intends to sign with the Steelers this season, and unsurprisingly, it has caused an uproar from the fans. Some are ready to ride with Wilson to the Super Bowl, others think he is washed, while others are still faithful to Kenny Pickett as their starter (oh you naive fans).

With this move being almost set in stone, I wanted to provide honest reactions and an outlook for the future. I do think there are some positives to this move, but it isn’t a perfect deal by any means.

Why the Steelers got it right with Wilson

The Pittsburgh Steelers gave Wilson a team-friendly deal, and Gerry Dulac of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports he will sign a one-year deal for the veteran minimum. I said anything under five million was fine, so I can get behind the low-cost investment.

Like it or not, Wilson is a more serious competitor (and a more established starter) than Mason Rudolph or Ryan Tannehill would have been. While there would have been a competition either way, it seems more like an actual battle between Wilson and Pickett (with Wilson the likely favorite) than any of the aforementioned names.

I also think Wilson fits what this offense wants to do really well. Arthur Smith wants a quarterback who can manage the game behind a dynamic running game, can work with play-action, and can effectively take the big shot when open. Wilson does this better than any realistic name available for the Steelers.

Where the Steelers got it wrong

This move isn’t a perfect one, albeit there wasn’t a perfect move available for the team. Wilson should be an upgrade from the room last year, but it isn’t like he is the elite quarterback from his Seahawk days. He is regressing, and his time in Denver was a complete failure.

Even if he is an upgrade over the current room, I don’t suddenly see the Steelers as Super Bowl contenders with this move. While they should continue Mike Tomlin’s streak of not losing, and maybe he can even give them a shot in the playoffs for a game, I can’t see the upside much past that.

Wilson didn’t seem to click well in Denver either, and there are a lot of varying reports about his ability as a leader. While those are all speculation, he never seemed to really click there. For a Steelers offense lacking leaders, Wilson may not be the answer.

My biggest issue is, that while this move slightly improves the outlook right now, how much will it matter? Let’s say he balls out in Pittsburgh, they win a game in the playoffs, and now you can’t reasonably allow him to walk next season. That means a big money deal for an aging quarterback a season removed from a mediocre stretch of play.

If he plays like he has or continues to regress (the more likely of the two scenarios), Pittsburgh is right where they are this season. They will be picking in the late teens/early twenties of the draft, making it hard to move up for a franchise prospect. Their quarterback options will be slim, and their stars will be another year older.

Unless you get the elite Wilson of almost five years ago, I don’t see this move yielding a lot long-term. I’m skeptical this move continues the new standard that I have seen from the team; one not focused on winning Super Bowls, but instead on doing just enough to have a winning season.

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This is where I get really disappointed by this move. If we are talking the exact same way about this team a year from now, what was the benefit of bringing Wilson in? I won’t ding the team for bettering an important position on the cheap, but I can’t help but think Pittsburgh will be in the same boat a year from now. There are some things to like about this signing, but it screams, to me, that this team is just preserving their new standard.