Will Landry Jones be the Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback once again in 2017? It might be a while before we know the answer to that question but one longtime beat writer said Wednesday he believes Jones will return in 2017 to backup starter Ben Roethlisberger.
During his Wednesday online chat, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was asked if Jones will be a Steeler in 2017 and his answer was short and to the point.
“Yes sir,” wrote Dulac.
So, why does Dulac believe Jones will ultimately be re-signed to backup Roethlisberger in 2017 and beyond?
“As a No. 2 QB, he is fine. I said this last week — the Steelers consider Jones to be better than 80 percent of the other backups in the league,” Dulac wrote. “That’s not my opinion, it’s theirs.”
That seems like a emphatic response and one that Dulac sounds willing to go to the bank with.
After Dulac made his prediction on Wednesday, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk did a little bit of math and concluded that Jones’ current value might be somewhere in the neighborhood of the two-year, $6.5 million contract the Arizona Cardinals gave backup quarterback Drew Stanton last year. as part of that deal that Stanton signed, he reportedly received $4.5 million in guarantees including a $2 million signing bonus. Additionally, he can reportedly earn up to $8.7 million in incentives.
Now, with the above said, it still seems likely that Jones will at least test free agency on March 9 unless the Steelers pay him what he feels he might be worth ahead of that date. To hear Steelers team president Art Rooney II talk a few weeks ago, while he would be open to the team re-signing Jones, he fully expects him to field outside offers.
“I think Landry is going to want to look at sort of his options and see if there’s something out there for him that he may have a chance to really compete to be a starter,” said Rooney in an interview with Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV a few weeks ago. “I think we like Landry and to the extent that turns out he wants to come back here we’d certainly consider it.”
Rooney also made it clear a few times since the 2016 season ended that there’s a very good chance that the team will address the quarterback position at some point during the 2017 NFL Draft.
“Well, you do have to pick a quarterback every once and a while,” Rooney told Pompeani. “We picked Landry, I guess it was four years ago now, and even at that point and time people said, ‘Why you taking a quarterback?’ I mean, you have to take a quarterback every once and a while. You just have to have that kind of depth on the roster at that position. And no matter when you pick them, you hope they’ll develop into players who will be good players in the league.”
Now, even if the Steelers do wind up drafting a quarterback this year, it’s hard to imagine that player entering the 2017 regular season as the backup to Roethlisberger. Should that ultimately wind up being the case, a more experienced signal-caller will be needed.
The Steelers currently have Zach Mettenberger under contract for the 2017 season but he’s yet to play a down since arriving in Pittsburgh ahead of the 2016 regular season. At the very least, the Steelers have had a full season worth of practices to learn more about Mettenberger and thus should know whether or not he can possibly be the No. 2 in 2017.
Needless to say, we should know the future status of Jones come the start of the 2017 NFL Draft and if Dulac is right and Jones is re-signed prior to that annual event taking place, Mettenberger will likely wind up having to compete against a rookie during training camp for the No. 3 spot on the quarterback depth chart.