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The word from the Post-Gazette that the Steelers are at least “tentatively scheduled” to kick the tires on Russell Wilson confirms their conviction regarding what they’ve said all along, what was said most recently at the NFL Scouting Combine by General Manager Omar Khan:

“I have an obligation to look at every avenue that’s out there to try to make us a better football team.”

When asked in what sounded like a sarcastic fashion in Indianapolis about potential interest in Wilson, Khan declined to give a specific answer and many in the assembled group of local media laughed.

Such was the perceived plausibility of such a suggestion.

But Wilson-to-the-Steelers, while far from a done deal, is no longer a laughing matter.

In terms of getting better at quarterback, Wilson might not be the right option.

But he’d be a much more aggressive option than bringing back Mason Rudolph or signing Ryan Tannehill.

Wilson would be legitimate competition for Kenny Pickett (Rudolph would, too, but Wilson has much more of an established track record, even as he’s aged past his prime).

He’d also be a relatively short-term solution at the position, which confirms the Steelers’ intention to win now and worry about later down the road.

These clearly aren’t the “Same Old Steelers” in terms of philosophy, in terms of how they operate.

They haven’t been for a while now, probably since they traded a first-round draft pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick.

You may think you know what they’ll do next, but you don’t.

But is Wilson the right thing to do at this critical juncture?

The Broncos were willing to eat $85 million in salary cap space and $39 million in actual dollars to ensure Wilson wouldn’t play for them in 2024.

That’s how well Wilson’s two-year stint with the Broncos went.

But the word I’m getting from Denver is Nathaniel Hackett and Sean Payton had at least as much if not more to do with what didn’t work for the Broncos as Wilson.

He isn’t 30 anymore. He’ll be 36 in late November.

But the word I’m getting from Denver is he can still play, not as well as he used to but well enough to get the right team in the right situation into the playoffs.

Wilson’s stats from last season, 28 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions, suggest as much. 

But what’s the right situation?

-A team that can convince Wilson to throw in rhythm and on time and not hold onto the ball too long.

-A team that can inspire in Wilson some confidence he’ll actually be protected more often than not, and not left out to dry in three-wide receivers sets that can’t adequately be protected.

-A team determined to run the ball, which can set up play-action, and one with a reliable tight end or two.

Sound familiar?

What the Steelers would be getting was perhaps best exemplified last Oct. 29 in Kansas City.

Wilson attempted 19 passes and completed 12 of them for 114 yards, but three of those completions went for touchdowns. The Broncos ran the ball, protected it, won the turnover battle and beat the Chiefs for the first time since 2015.

That was part of a five-game stretch against Green Bay, Kansas City, Buffalo at Buffalo, Minnesota and Cleveland in which Denver went 5-0, Wilson completed 71.6 percent of his passes, threw for eight TDs and wasn’t intercepted.

Clearly, Wilson and Payton just didn’t mix, in part because of Wilson’s tendency to go off script when he thought he saw something, which drove Payton nuts. But just as clearly Wilson’s benching wasn’t a football decision, and from what I’m told in Denver Wilson’s teammates were furious over the move.

They saw a guy who was in the building when they got there and still in the building when they left.

The public often sees a guy who can easily be described as strange/weird/eccentric/an odd duck. In Pittsburgh, Wilson would likely be a guy the fans would have a hard time embracing.

But if he’s throwing touchdown passes on Sunday, who cares?

Would Wilson come here to compete?

The word I’m getting from Denver is Wilson would show up convinced he’d win any type of competition but would be a teammate no matter how such a competition played out (he helped Jarrett Stidham after Stidham was given Wilson’s job). Wilson would also show up determined to resurrect his damaged professional reputation.

So could this work in the short term?


But the real story is the extent to which the Steelers are willing to go to get this quarterback mess settled, at least temporarily.

It’s an obligation they’ve clearly taken to heart, they’ve recognized the problem, and they’re determined be as creative as they need to be in an effort to get it solved.

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos

Photo: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

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