The trade deadline came and went without any consequences to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Or did it? The Steelers made no moves, and none of their AFC rivals improved themselves significantly either. One transaction in particular may have implications for Pittsburgh down the line. The New England Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers, thereby taking one more team out of quarterback chase for next season. The 49ers were considered favorites to land Kirk Cousins during the 2018 free agency period due to his ties with head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Granted, Kirk Cousins will have no shortage of suitors when it comes time for him to hit free agency. Cousins will be far and away the best free agent option at quarterback, and there are plenty of teams in need of one. The one thing that could make Pittsburgh stand out is the ability to win right away. If winning a Super Bowl is high on Cousins’ list, then it’s going to be a two team race between the Steelers and the Denver Broncos. Of course money will ultimately be the determining factor, as it is for 99% of free agent decisions. If one of those two teams were to get in the ballpark money wise, thier strong organisations could give them a leg up.
This whole theory hinges of course on whether or not Ben Roethlisberger ever decides to follow through on his hints of retirement. If that were to happen, the Steelers would find themselves in quite a predicament. They have a team primed to win it all for the next several years, but without a quarterback it may not matter. Drafting a franchise quarterback would seem to be near impossible given where the team is likely to draft in the first round. Even if the club were able to somehow trade up, it might take years to get a rookie quarterback ready. Not to mention the price it would take to get up high enough in the draft to do so. So the next logical step would be to look to free agency. But this is the Pittsburgh Steelers we are talking about. They are renowned for their conservative approach, and lack of big moves in free agency. It would definitely be a step outside their comfort zone to land such a big free agent deal. There are other ramifications to spending what it would take to land a player like Kirk Cousins. The team would undoubtedly have to part ways with Le’veon Bell to fit a big contract under the salary cap.
This all may seem outrageous and unlikely today, but it wouldn’t take much to make a move like this reality. The Steelers have not had to face life without a franchise quarterback in over 13 years. GM Kevin Colbert has never had to face this issue. The chance to reload quickly will be a tempting one even for a conservative team like the Steelers. Nobody wants to go back to the Tommy Maddox, Mike Tomczack, or even Kordell Stewart days. This could finally be the time where the Steelers make their big free agent splash……..maybe.