The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for a new quarterback for the first time in nearly two decades. With Ben Roethlisberger all but set to retire, the Steelers will be holding a competition for the starting spot in 2022.
Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins will likely get the first cracks at replacing Big Ben. Josh Dobbs has a distant shot at making an impact. Those are the Steelers' options on the current roster.
With the offseason fast approaching, there will be multiple avenues for the Steelers to bolster their quarterback room. Free agency, trades, and the NFL Draft are ways to add a quarterback.
Pittsburgh has been linked to a ton of different names from Aaron Rodgers through a trade all the way to Sam Howell in the NFL Draft with a good bit of Marcus Mariota in between.
There are so many options. My personal opinion is that the Steelers ride with Rudolph/Haskins. If one of them takes the reins and does well, maybe you have a quarterback for a few years. If they don't, you've got a nice pick in the 2023 NFL Draft in what is perceived as a stronger quarterback class.
I don't want the Steelers using their first round pick on a quarterback in a year that isn't as strong and they've got other more pressing needs that have to be taken care of.
Spending the assets to get a veteran quarterback doesn't seem feasible. If the Steelers were a mere quarterback away from being a stud contending team, then I'd say send the house and get your guy. They aren't quite in position to do that.
But if there was one veteran I think the Steelers should keep their eye on if they so choose to go that route, my choice would be Derek Carr.
Carr is currently 30-years old and has just shy of a $20 million cap hit next season in the final year of his deal. In terms of quarterback money, that's really not a whopping amount and feels reasonable for a player of Carr's level.
Back in 2016, Carr was an MVP candidate before Trent Cole made a tackle on him in week 16 that broke his leg and derailed the Raiders' playoff chances in a resurgent season. He led the Raiders to a 12-3 record before the injury with 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions.
His overall play has been shaky at times throughout his career but he quietly enjoyed a very good season in 2021. His completion percentage (68.4%) was one of the best of his career. Cart threw 14 interceptions but did so on 626 attempts, both of those numbers setting career highs.
Granted this season had an extra game so there was room for career-highs to be reset.
Derek Carr also presents a very easy guy to root for. Between the firing of a head coach who believed in him immensely, the Henry Ruggs incident, and the countless other negative Raiders headlines in 2021, Carr never wavered. He led his team to a victory in the final game of the season, one that ended up being very meaningful for Steelers fans, to send Las Vegas to the playoffs.
In his first career playoff game, Carr came within a few yards of a touchdown to tie the game against the Bengals and push the game to overtime. He racked up 310 yards passing and had a touchdown and an interception.
Of course, Carr only playing his first playoff game eight years later might be a bit of a detractor. He would've played in 2016 if not for the broken leg but instead the Raiders ran Connor Cook out there to make his NFL debut and get mauled by the Texans.
Carr's lack of a playoff track record isn't all on him. He's been a good quarterback on a bad defensive team. He isn't the type of guy who can win games by himself on many occasions but he always gives his team a fighting chance. He's a gamer to the ultimate degree.
The Steelers would be a better team in 2022 with Derek Carr at the helm. He isn't the most mobile quarterback but he wouldn't be running in quicksand either like Roethlisberger seemingly did towards the end of his career.
Mobility is certainly something that Mike Tomlin covets and Carr at least provides a bit more of that than Big Ben did. Maybe not to the extent guys like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson do but certainly enough to escape the pocket if he has to.
Of course, many quarterbacks aren't going to thrive much with a below-average offensive like in front of them. Carr's near-MVP season came with one of the best offensive lines in football protecting him. Unless the Steelers made enough moves to send the offensive line into a complete-180, Carr would not be playing behind a competent offensive line.
This all goes without mentioning the price that would have to be paid for Carr. Anytime a good quarterback is available, their price tag obviously won't be cheap. He's started 127 games over his career so it's fair to say he's viewed as a franchise quarterback. While he might be a lower-tier one, he's an NFL quarterback nonetheless and those don't come cheap.
Is it worth mortgaging the future for that? I'm not sure. The offensive line and multiple defensive positions could be addressed. Acquiring Carr more than likely sees Pittsburgh's 2022 first-round pick going to the Raiders.
Las Vegas is also in the process of looking for a new head coach and general manager. Who's to say the new bosses don't want to keep Carr?
Care also comes on a one-year deal. If the Steelers sent all of those picks away, you'd be forced to sign Carr to make the deal worth it. That means three seasons at minimum with him as your quarterback. Does the Steelers contention timeline line up with that deal? Maybe, maybe not.
There are so many factors to consider with acquiring Carr. If the Steelers go the veteran route, getting a guy like Rodgers or Russell Wilson feels like overkill for this roster. If they sign a Mariota or a Teddy Bridgewater, does that truly make the Steelers a better team next year?
I'd rather allocate that cap elsewhere and see what you've got in Rudolph and Haskins. Use next year to see what you've got in them. Improve the offensive line, defensive line, and then eventually acquire your next potential franchise quarterback in a later draft.
A guy like Rudolph or Haskins would benefit from a better run game next season. Build the offensive line so that Najee Harris can gain more confidence and open up the game for Rudolph/Haskins.
I'm not necessarily advocating for the Steelers to acquire Carr. However, if they didn't want to roll with the current options, Carr feels like a guy the fan base and front office could get behind.
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