PITTSBURGH — Less than an hour after the NFL’s legal tampering period began on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to terms with a quarterback.
Bringing in former Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year contract with undisclosed monetary terms isn’t a blowout signing by most standards — but it’s important for the Steelers .
The organization is often quiet during the first free will wave, preferring to prioritize its own players and wait for the dust to settle before making a series of relatively low-key moves. The Steelers also aren’t known for pursuing outside quarterbacks as potential starters. Since 2004, the year Ben Roethlisberger was drafted, there have been 271 starts by local flaggers, compared to 18 by players who started their NFL careers outside of Pittsburgh.
But with Roethlisberger retiring, a relatively weak quarterback draft class, and the free agent and trade market drying up, the Steelers had to act quickly.
In acquiring Trubisky, a former No. 2 overall pick, the Steelers stuck to most of their fundamentals. They didn’t have to drop the capital draft to sign him, and his contract should be relatively inexpensive, giving them the cap space to meet other needs on the offensive line, inside linebacker and running back. corner.
“I am beyond excited and blessed to have the opportunity to be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Trubisky sent ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “I have huge respect for the Rooney family and Coach [Mike] Tomlin. They have built one of the best formations in football, and I look forward to contributing and helping this team continue their success.
Is Trubisky the next big Steelers quarterback? Probably not. But the next Roethlisberger probably wouldn’t walk through the door in 2022.
The asking price for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson would be multiple first-round draft picks with a huge cap shot, and while Jimmy Garoppolo probably won’t quite cost that haul, he thinks he’s ordering more capital from draft than the Steelers would typically feel. a comfortable parting with the long list of holes to fill.
Trubisky is the Steelers’ human safety net. It eases the pressure to sign a first-round quarterback from a below-average class, and it gives the Steelers meaningful competition in that position. Last month, general manager Kevin Colbert said Mason Rudolph would be the team’s starter if the season started the next day.
That’s not exactly the case now. The pair will likely enter training camp in a competition for the starting position. And, because Colbert said he expects to have four quarterbacks on the roster for training camp, former first-rounder Dwayne Haskins is also on the roster, along with another player. That fourth option could be a second- or third-round pick, or a relatively minor free agency signing, like bringing back Josh Dobbs.
“Mason is 5-4-1 as an NFL starter, albeit in a backup role, but we’re excited to see what’s next for Mason,” Colbert said in February. “Dwayne Haskins came in and did some great things all season as the quarterback for the scout team. He’s played one in a pre-season, and we’re excited to see what Dwayne can bring from the competition or maybe he’s evolving as a starter. None of us know at this point.
“It will be a great training camp for these two, and any player we can add to that mix.”
While Rudolph has worked closely with offensive coordinator Matt Canada for two seasons, Trubisky’s skill set should fit well with Canada’s plan.
Trubisky, 28, excelled during his time in Chicago when the offense used the pre-snap move. His QBR was 22.5 points higher with the move than without, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. His completion percentage also went from 65% to 69%, and he threw 29 touchdowns with seven interceptions to 35 touchdowns and 30 interceptions without a move.
Although the Steelers used the pre-snap move 36% of the time last season, Canada used it extensively during their career as a college offensive coordinator and believe they’ll put it to the fore more next season. .
Trubisky often excelled in short, quick passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, another essential part of Canada’s offense.
Trubisky also has the kind of mobility the Steelers wanted to prioritize this offseason. From 2017-20, Trubisky’s 833 rushing yards in scrambling was fifth among all quarterbacks.
But for as much positive potential as Trubisky brings to Pittsburgh, there are downsides.
Trubisky had eight red-zone interceptions in Chicago, the most in the NFL from 2017 to 20, and his 50.8 QBR on that streak was 29th in the league. He also had the second-highest off-target percentage at 19.4% over that span.
But Trubisky has experience working with the Buffalo staff and learning from Josh Allen for a season. Another change of scenery and working with Canada and respected quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan could help his development even more.
Signing Trubisky doesn’t make the Steelers a Super Bowl contender, but it doesn’t eliminate them from the race either. If the organization executes free agency and the draft perfectly to complement players like Najee Harris, TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers can have a successful season without a superstar quarterback. The offensive line, inside linebackers, defensive line and secondary will need to be added, but a solid running game and championship-level defense can bolster an average passing offense.
Trubiksy isn’t a home run signing by the Steelers, but his addition is one that puts them on a competitive AFC North base while maintaining as much flexibility as possible to fill other needy positions while They are continuing the search for Roethlisberger’s heir apparent.