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You may have heard that the Pittsburgh Steelers have a quarterback quandary on their hands. Rest assured that the Steelers' quarterback situation will be one of the most talked about storylines of the NFL offseason, and for good reason. 

What the Steelers ultimately choose to do at quarterback will undoubtedly alter the direction of the franchise. They could continue to go with Kenny Pickett, turn to a proven veteran as a bridge QB or completely change course with either a rookie or a promising free agent or trade acquisition. 

So, what will the Steelers do? In an attempt to find out, here's my rankings of Pittsburgh's top-five options at quarterback with free agency looming. 

1. Kenny Pickett

This might not make some Steelers fans happy. He hasn't emphatically made his case to be Ben Roethlisberger's long-term successor. But as we'll explain below, much of that hasn't been his fault. 

Pickett started his career with an offensive coordinator who was relieved of his duties during the 2023 season. It's no coincidence that Pickett's best game last season occurred immediately following the OC shakeup. Pickett continued to play well the following week before an injury ultimately ended his season. 

Injuries have also hindered Pickett's development. He missed two games his rookie season after entering the league's concussion protocol. An ankle injury last season contributed to Pickett's season ending after 12 games. 

Offensive coordinator and injury issues have hurt Pickett's growth, but he Steelers possibly trying to turn him into a game manager has, too. Pickett threw a lot of picks early on as a rookie, and substantially improved in that area shortly thereafter. But his production also decreased; he's had just one game with multiple touchdown passes and his only 300-yard passing performance occurred during his first career start in Buffalo. 

Part of new OC Arthur Smith's task is to help Pickett find the balance between playmaker and game manager. Pickett has the ability to be a playmaker; he's done that on occasion for the Steelers and routinely did so during his final year at Pitt. Smith has to help him rediscover that magic. At the same time, Smith also has to help Pickett understand his limitations when it comes to taking risks both as a passer and a runner. I'm confident that Smith can do both. 

2. Justin Fields

If we just went off of proven talent, Fields is the top option. Like Pickett, Fields is a former first-round pick who has yet to realize his full potential. Also like Pickett, Fields has also been hindered by things outside of his control, like a subpar offensive line and and an underwhelming supporting cast. 

Fields has had his moments in Chicago despite those obstacles. In 2022, Fields recorded the second-most rushing yards (1,143) in NFL history by a quarterback in a season. He also led the NFL with a 7.1 yards-per-carry average. Last season, Fields set career-highs in passing yards and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low nine interceptions. 

One would think that Fields would have more success in Pittsburgh. The Steelers' offensive line is still a work in progress, but it's better than the one that is currently in Chicago. He'd also have upgrades at running back and at receiver. 

Cost is the biggest obstacle here. Pittsburgh would likely have to trade multiple future draft picks (including a second-round pick) to get Fields, who is still under contract. Fields will also be in line for a new deal either next offseason or in 2026, depending on his fifth-year option. 

Fields' arrival in Pittsburgh would also mean the end of Pickett's time in the Steel City. If the Steelers made this scenario a reality, they'd have to be willing to part ways with a quarterback whose potential is still unknown. 

3. Mason Rudolph

Rudolph is this high on my list despite reports stating that he wants a fresh start. If that's the case, it would he hard to blame the former third-rounder, who probably doesn't feel that he would actually get a chance to compete for the starting job should be return to Pittsburgh. 

If he does return and is given a chance to win the job, Rudolph would have a least a puncher's chance at being the Steelers' new starting quarterback. 

Rudolph provided the Steelers' best quarterback play last season, good enough that he remained in the starting lineup after Pickett was cleared to return from injury. He completed a whopping 74.3% of his passes in helping lead the Steelers to three straight wins that led to a playoff berth. During that span, the Steelers offense recorded its only two games that produced at least 30 points. 

Other than a bad pick in the red zone, Rudolph was solid in Pittsburgh's playoff loss to Buffalo. He threw two touchdowns and led a spirited comeback attempt that ultimately fell short. 

Rudolph isn't terribly mobile, but he's capable of making plays with his legs if he has to. More so, Rudolph has the respect of the Steelers locker room. He quickly took command of Pittsburgh's huddle when he was called into action last season. 

At 29, Rudolph should be entering the prime of his career. He would also be an affordable option and would allow the Steelers to spend their money on other positions, at least for the time being. 

4. Ryan Tannehill

This makes sense on several fronts. For one, Tannehill would be relatively affordable. He would also be good competition for Pickett. Tannehill knows Smith's offense; he had his two best seasons as a pro with Smith serving as his OC with the Titans in 2019-20. 

Injuries are a concern with Tannehill, though. He dealt with ankle injuries each of his last two seasons in Nashville, the second one opening the door for rookie Will Levis to take his job. He did play well when he re-entered the starting lineup late in the year. During his final three games, Tannehill completed nearly 71% of his passes despite getting sacked 13 times. He threw a pair of touchdowns in helping the Titans defeat the Jaguars in his final game in Nashville. 

Tannehill lacks mobility, which is something Tomlin covets in his starting quarterback. But he is an experienced, accurate quarterback who is more than OK with working inside a run-first offense. 

Unlike Fields, adding Tannehill to the roster wouldn't mean parting ways with Pickett. Tannehill would surely understand that he is coming to Pittsburgh to compete with Pickett. And while he would likely be disappointed if he were to lose out to Pickett, Tannehill would be an excellent backup who could help Pickett grow.

5. Michael Pratt

The Tulane signal-caller shared that he met with Tomlin at the Senior Bowl, so it's clear that the Steelers have an interest in the quarterbacks who will be available in the draft. Based off of what Pratt said, the meeting went well between himself and the Steelers coach. 

CBS Sports has tabbed Pratt as the seventh-best quarterback and 73rd best player in the upcoming draft. Pratt's projected draft stock is good in that the Steelers won't have to use a first-round (or possibly even a second-round pick) to acquire him. They could fill other needs first before adding to their QB room. 

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Pratt has the prototypical quarterback build. He threw 90 touchdowns against just 26 picks at Tulane that included 49 touchdowns against just 10 picks during his final two seasons. Pratt's biggest area of growth in college was his improvement with his accuracy. 

Pratt is a winner. He led Tulane to a 12-2 record in 2022 that included a Cotton Bowl win over Heisman winner Caleb Williams and USC. While that wasn't his best game from a passing standpoint, Pratt made up for it by rushing for 83 yards on 15 carries. Pratt also threw the game-winning touchdown pass with just nine seconds left in the game. 

Steelers fans will probably love watching one of Pratt's college highlight reels. His arm may not be the strongest, but that didn't stop him from throwing a considerable number of deep balls in college. Pratt's affinity for throwing the deep pass would be a welcomed sight in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers haven't been shy in recent years about their desire to open up the offense. 

Pratt's biggest weaknesses are largely technical. For example, Pro Football Network has questioned his arm strength and field vision. Both of those issues, among others, can be worked on at the next level.  

Starting a rookie is a risky business, though, although Roethlisberger made it look easy 20 years ago. It's hard to fathom Pratt or any rookie starting for the Steelers in 2024. But it's definitely feasible to think that Pittsburgh will draft either Pratt or another quarterback during the draft. A rookie would provide fresh competition for Pickett while giving the Steelers another young option at the most importation position in sports.