In a recent article by Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch weighed in on his former team signing backup Bruce Gradkowski this offeseason and drafting Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones in the fourth-round of the 2013 NFL draft this past weekend. Batch indicated that he thinks that the Steelers drafting of Jones goes “much deeper than what\’s on the surface …
“Maybe they weren\’t happy with what they had behind Ben and Bruce,” said Batch. “That could be. But ultimately, I think this isn\’t about replacing me. Big picture, maybe they\’re thinking, \’Can we develop Landry Jones to be the starter? Maybe two years from now, he could be our guy for the next 10 years.\’ We don\’t know. But with the contracts for quarterbacks these days, he\’d certainly be a heck of a lot cheaper than Ben at age 34 or 35 or 36.”
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert explained the selection of Jones differently in a Monday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“Quarterback is the most important position on any football team at any level and you can never disregard that position,” said Colbert. “We\’ve been able to get through with a couple of older guys that did great jobs for us in Charlie and Byron, but we felt that we wanted to get younger at that position. We always like to have a young guy in the mix, but the last couple of years we haven\’t been able to accomplish that. To Charlie\’s and Byron\’s credit they held off the young guys that we\’ve brought in, but it\’s just a matter of getting youth into that position.
“Even with Bruce Gradkowski, Bruce comes in as a younger, experienced backup, and of course adding Landry Jones and John Parker Wilson into the mix, now we have young guys coming up behind. And hopefully Ben Roethlisberger continues to play at a high level for us and he retires as a Pittsburgh Steeler, and maybe with a couple of more championships. That\’s everybody\’s hope, but in the meantime it\’s our job to provide the type of depth where you can always have a young guy in the mix.”
Maybe Batch, who I really doubt has an agenda here, is just in denial more than anything else. He needs to remember that he is 38-years-old now and has been a backup in Pittsburgh for 11 seasons. That\’s a long time and it was time to move on from both he and Byron Leftwich, who is 33-years-old and can\’t ever seem to stay healthy.
With the style of football that Roethlisberger plays, it lends itself to him getting dinged up and the Steelers can\’t risk putting themselves in the same position that they were in last year that even led to them having to add free agent quarterback Brian Hoyer to the roster for a short time.
On top of everything else, Roethlisberger is due for a contract extension next offseason and we all know that there is no guarantees as to how those talks will go. While we wouldn\’t expect there to be any problems, Roethlisberger will no doubt want more money than both Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo received earlier this offseason. Should the Steelers wind up winning another Super Bowl in 2013, Roethlisberger will expect to be paid more than Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who just signed a top deal, as well.
In the event that Roethlisberger were to suffer another serious injury this upcoming season, or in the event a long-term deal can\’t be able to be worked out, the Steelers have to be prepared and that is what I think led to them drafting Jones. Jones might never play a down of football over the course of his rookie contract, but he will have a few years of grooming just in case he has to.