People surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers were confident that Kenny Pickett was the long-term answer at quarterback heading into the 2023 NFL regular season. He was coming off a rookie campaign in which he grew after each of his 12 starts. This summer, rumors started to fly around that Pickett had improved and looked even better. All of that led up to the preseason, where Pickett proceeded to be almost perfect, albeit in limited action.
Unfortunately, seemingly none of that translated to the regular season. In 12 games this season, Pickett has thrown for just 2,070 yards, along with seven total touchdowns and four interceptions. While he’s done a great job cutting down on turnovers, that hasn’t been enough. It’s left concerns about the future in Pittsburgh, and people are already questioning if the team should find a new quarterback. Peter King of NBC Sports thinks so, and he has a particular name in mind for the Steelers when he appeared on The Cook & Joe Show earlier this week.
“Let’s say Bo Nix is there when the Steelers pick and they love Bo Nix, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to take him at all. But I think the overriding thing I would do, that I would absolutely make sure I do, is that I’d tell Kenny Pickett, ‘Your career as a Steeler isn’t over, but you now have to fight for your job.’ I’d have no preconceived notions, let the best quarterback win.”
If you haven’t heard the name, Nix just had a phenomenal senior season at the University of Oregon. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting after he had 4,145 passing yards and 46 total touchdowns on the season. It was a fitting end to his five-year college career in which he split time between Oregon and Auburn. By the time of the 2024 NFL Draft, Nix will be 24 years old, just a few months older than Pickett when he was drafted.
Coming out of college, age was a concern for Pickett and it likely will be for Nix too. After his growth at Oregon though, he’s evolved into a first-round draft pick. The 2024 NFL Draft is loaded with elite quarterbacks at the top, headlined by Drake Maye and Caleb Williams. Unfortunately, the Steelers just won’t have a bad enough record to land one of those guys with a top-five pick.
What Should The Steelers Do At Quarterback This Offseason?
There is doubt surrounding Pickett, as there should be. With that being said, this doesn’t seem like the best route for the Steelers. They could kick the tires for veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency on a short-term deal, although he may stay with the Minnesota Vikings at this point. If Pittsburgh wanted to bring in a younger, more talented option, Justin Fields’ name will pop up in trade rumors for the next few months.
Given the franchise’s past history, they will likely give Pickett another year or two. In all fairness to him, he should get some more chances. As we know, the coaching staff surrounding him hasn’t exactly put him in the best spot to succeed. Pittsburgh will get a chance to get a better offensive coordinator this offseason, which should put Pickett in a better spot to succeed.
Ultimately, this all leads to the fact that Nix doesn’t make much sense in Pittsburgh. He’s just a year younger than Pickett, and his overall upside isn’t worth it to the Steelers. Instead, they can invest their draft picks into beefing up the trenches some more or even getting another dynamic playmaker.