2017 NFL Free Agency: 5 Backup Quarterback Targets for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Dec 22, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) runs past New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. The Philadelphia Eagles won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Despite recently signing Landry Jones to a new two-year deal, here are five other backup quarterbacks the Pittsburgh Steelers should still consider targeting.

At the moment, all signs point to Ben Roethlisberger leaning towards returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 14th season. But there’s still a slight reason for concern since the veteran has mentioned the possibility of retirement over the last few months. When seeing the numerous hits and injuries he’s unfortunately had to deal with over the years, it’s easy to understand why retirement has been considered for Roethlisberger at this point in his career.

Not only has Roethlisberger made a strong case for himself to be part of Canton at some point later on in life, but he’s also already been fortunate enough to win two Super Bowls with the Steelers in his career. At this point, anything else Roethlisberger accomplishes will just add to what has already been a stellar career for the Pittsburgh quarterback.

Of course, if Big Ben does end up pulling the retirement card out of nowhere over the next few months, the Steelers do everything in their power to be prepared for life without their beloved quarterback. Even if Landry Jones recently signed a two-year deal with the team, the argument can be made he’s not even a reliable option for a backup, which is why Pittsburgh should strongly consider adding another free-agent quarterback over the next few weeks.

The options may not be as intriguing as a few weeks ago, but there are still a small group of veterans the Steelers should consider at quarterback. From Robert Griffin III to Chase Daniel, here’s a look at five potential backup quarterbacks for Pittsburgh to consider signing in free agency.

New York Giants

Jan 1, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) scrambles against the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

5. Robert Griffin III

After a solid preseason last August, there were high expectations for Robert Griffin III, as the Cleveland Browns felt confident enough they finally found a quarterback to rely on. It’s no secret how much the Browns have struggled at the quarterback position over the years, but unfortunately those expectations quickly went away after Griffin suffered a devastating shoulder injury opening weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The injury kept Griffin sidelined for a majority of the season (only played five games), and while Cleveland could have easily given him another chance to prove himself in 2017, the team felt it would be best for both parties to part ways this offseason. As bad as it sounds, it’s crazy to think how much of a decline Griffin’s career has been since his rookie season, but that doesn’t mean NFL teams should give up on him just yet.

Maybe a fresh start on a winning team (sorry Browns) like the Pittsburgh Steelers is just what Griffin needs to finally turn his career out. No disrespect to Griffin, but it’s tough to make a case for a starting job if a team like Cleveland doesn’t even feel confident enough despite few options.

But when compared to the current situation with Landry Jones, adding RGIII would easily be an upgrade at the current backup quarterback position. Not to mention if Ben Roethlisberger were to suffer some sort of injury, it would be interesting to see what Griffin would be capable of when looking at the dangerous weapons he would get to work with on offense.

Nov 13, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Case Keenum (17) carries the ball in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. The Rams defeated the Jets 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Case Keenum

Throughout his career, Case Keenum has been given numerous opportunities to prove he deserves to be a starter in the NFL, but after last year’s disappointing season with the Los Angeles Rams in which Jared Goff eventually replaced him, it’s clear he’s not starting material. Then again, Keenum does deserve some benefit of the doubt when looking at the lack of weapons the Rams provided him in the passing game, along with a struggling offensive line.

There are certainly a few teams that Keenum could arguably compete for the starting job, but at this point in his career, the wise move would be to accept a role as a backup quarterback, especially if it can be on a legitimate contender. From an experience perspective, Keenum seems to have the upper hand over Landry Jones, and who knows what he would be capable of lining up under center with a better receiving corps than he experienced in 2016 with the Rams.

His numbers as a starter from last year may be a reason for concern, but let’s not forget there were a few decent performances from Keenum that displayed potential, such as Week 6 against the Detroit Lions in which he recorded four total touchdowns. With a better fit and more reliable offense, maybe joining a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers would be beneficial for Keenum after last year’s disastrous season.

Aug 1, 2016; Irvine, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Kellen Moore (17) throws a pass at training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Kellen Moore

Before anyone freaks out over even the possibility of Kellen Moore being a better option at backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, keep in mind the former Boise State standout hasn’t been fortunate enough to see plenty of playing time on the football field. Since joining the league in 2012, Moore has only appeared in three games (all with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015), and has yet to record a single win as a starter.

Quarterbacks have always been waiting for the perfect opportunity to prove what they’re capable of on the football field, and despite his inexperience at the NFL level, Moore could easily turn out to be one of those players. Take a look at his one shining performance with the Cowboys in 2015 during a Week 16 matchup against the Washington Redskins, as it’s the perfect example of why he should at least be considered a possibility for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even if that was a meaningless game for Dallas, the fact that Moore completed 33 of 48 passes for 435 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions shows what he’s capable of bringing to the table. The Cowboys could easily end up bringing him back for a third season, but if the Steelers were really interested in bringing another backup quarterback on board, Moore should be near the top of their list.

Jan 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) prepares to pass in the first half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

2. Matt McGloin

As devastating as a late-season injury to Derek Carr was for the Oakland Raiders, there was plenty of confidence over Matt McGloin filling in as the starting quarterback to lead the team into the playoffs. But unfortunately for McGloin, that opportunity to lead the team during their first-round matchup against the Houston Texans never happened after the former Penn State star suffered a should injury during the regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos.

Not only would McGloin miss out on a chance to show off his skills in the playoffs, but this would have been the perfect opportunity to show other potential teams why they should consider signing him in free agency. McGloin realizes he’s never going to get a true opportunity to be the starter in Oakland as long as Derek Carr is around, but at least with a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team will eventually have to find a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger when he does end up calling it a career.

McGloin may have experienced the common struggles of most rookie quarterbacks back in 2013, but he’s come a long way since then, and many believe he’s even capable of handling the responsibilities of a starter. Plus, if Big Ben were forced to miss some time due to injury like he has at times over the last two years, at least there would be more confidence in having a backup like McGloin.

Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Chase Daniel (10) during a game against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1. Chase Daniel

At first, Chase Daniel appeared to be the starter for the Philadelphia Eagles last season when Sam Bradford was dealt to the Minnesota Vikings, but the team decided to insert rookie Carson Wentz into the mix right away. Doug Pederson originally brought Daniel on board after the two worked together as members of the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Eagles decided to part ways with the veteran after one season, and bring back Nick Foles instead.

The most interesting thing about Daniel’s release is the fact that he feels confident enough in his quarterback abilities that he wants to join a new team this offseason to compete for the starting job. Unless Daniel decides to join a struggling team like the New York Jets or San Francisco 49ers, that’s simply not going to happen during the 2017 season, which means it makes more sense to take the safe approach by accepting the duties of a reliable backup.

For a player with only two career NFL starts and one touchdown pass since joining the league in 2010, chances are Daniel isn’t going to blow away any teams in need of a quarterback to compete for a starting job next year. From Daniel’s perspective, instead of waiting out for the chance to join a team to compete for the starting job, why not consider a strong contender like the Pittsburgh Steelers? With Ben Roethlisberger’s history of constantly getting banged up by opponents, it wouldn’t even be a surprise if Daniel received some playing time during the regular season if he were to sign with the Steelers.

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