Steelers did a dramatic about-face at quarterback

Last month, the Steelers got out the word that they aren't interested in a veteran quarterback with aspirations to start. Now, they'll be signing a veteran quarterback with clear aspirations to start.

Something clearly changed on the road to adding Russell Wilson.

Here's the initial report, from Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "[T]he Steelers are not interested in bringing in a quarterback who wants to be a starter. That would include Justin Fields and Kirk Cousins, and probably even Russell Wilson, who has a connection with the Steelers."

At the Scouting Combine, that was the vibe. The Steelers were committed to Kenny Pickett vs. Mason Rudolph. Between then and late last week, something changed.

Dulac wasn't wrong. At the time, what he said was the truth. As of two weeks ago, what he said was the truth. That's probably why Dulac was handed the first scoop regarding Wilson's visit to the team on Friday. He'd been burned last month; the Steelers needed to make it up to him.

It's not clear why the Steelers changed their opinion. It could be as simple as Rudolph, who is due to be a free agent, made a proposal on a new deal and someone realized that, if they can get Wilson for only $1.21 million, why shouldn't they try?

Then came the meeting with Wilson, and it all makes sense. Wilson has a presence, an aura. He says all the right things. He does all the right things. Coach Mike Tomlin, who has managed plenty of difficult personalities over the years, has to love the enthusiasm and zeal of Russell Wilson. Even if it's wholly or partially contrived, it's always easier to deal with a fake choir boy than an authentic asshole.

Plus, Wilson still has skills. It didn't work in Denver. It did work in Seattle. Pittsburgh will be more like Seattle. Wilson won't be the focal point of the offense. He won't be overwhelmed by complicated calls and pre-snap reads. He'll be able to do the things he did well enough to make himself into a future Hall of Famer — and potentially turn the last two seasons into a donut hole that could be soon forgotten.

The only concern from Wilson's perspective could be the organizational affinity for 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett. But, frankly, Pickett doesn't really do anything spectacular. He's a meat and potatoes quarterback, at best.

Russ can indeed cook, when the ball is in his hands. He has a big arm. He can buy time. He can win games. He can win the starting job. He frankly should, if it's a fair competition.

In Denver, Wilson learned the hard way that he shouldn't have wanted to be a Patrick Mahomes/Josh Allen-type quarterback. He'll now take a step back, and possibly take multiple steps forward, as the quarterback for an iconic franchise that could make things very interesting in the AFC North and the conference generally.