The Pittsburgh Steelers will meet with recently released Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson before the start of NFL free agency, which opens Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, a league source confirmed to The Athletic. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette originally reported the meeting.

It is unknown how much interest the Steelers have in signing the 35-year-old quarterback. At the NFL Scouting Combine last week, general manager Omar Khan said he had “full faith” in Kenny Pickett and made it known that the organization wants to re-sign free agent Mason Rudolph.

It would seem unlikely that Wilson would sign to be the No. 3 quarterback. If the two sides do come to terms, it would most certainly be the end of Rudolph’s time with the Steelers.

Wilson was traded to the Broncos in 2022 after 10 successful years with the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson struggled in 2022 but rebounded this past season to throw for just over 3,000 yards, 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Wilson was benched late in the season and finished with just an 11-19 record in 30 starts with Denver.

The Broncos informed Wilson on Monday that they planned to release him in a salary-cap move, and that he could immediately seek employment elsewhere. Denver signed Wilson to a five-year, $242 million deal after he was traded. With the release, the Broncos are on the hook for $85 million in dead money.

The Broncos owe Wilson $39 million guaranteed in 2024, minus the value of a contract he signs with another team, due to offset language in his deal. That could be as low as $1.2 million, the league minimum.

The Steelers have only Pickett under contract for the 2024 season. They typically keep three QBs on the roster and bring four to training camp.

Does Wilson make sense in Pittsburgh?

The Steelers would go against everything they’ve said in the offseason if they decide to sign Wilson. It would suggest that they don’t have full faith in Pickett and don’t want to sign Rudolph, even though he had a solid final four games of the season last year and led the Steelers to a playoff spot.

So no, Wilson doesn’t make sense, but if we’ve learned anything from Khan over the past two years as GM, it’s that he isn’t afraid to take chances. Signing Wilson would be a big leap of faith considering the Steelers are in the market for a long-term plan at quarterback, and Pickett and Rudolph provide more of that than Wilson, who has 12 years in the league and will turn 36 in late November.

If the Steelers think they can win now, which is debatable, then Wilson might be the better fit despite his strengths not being what new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is known to do (most notably throw between the numbers). Wilson has a better pedigree than what the Steelers currently employ and was good in the red zone last year.

If they sign Wilson, they are punting on Pickett and Rudolph and then might have to give a decent extension to a guy who nobody knows how much he has left.

Connecting the dots

The news of Wilson’s meeting with the Steelers came out of nowhere, which makes you ask why him and why now? There is nothing that previously suggested Wilson was sought after or even wanted by the Steelers, and probably for good reason. But when you consider that the news of Wilson meeting with the Steelers might bring Rudolph to the extension table quicker, maybe drive down his price all while sending Pickett a message (even if it would be a veiled attempt), it makes sense.

Steelers minority owner Thomas Tull is business partners with both Wilson and his wife, Ciara. The three, along with Russell Westbrook, are founding partners of Evolution Advisors LLC, a joint venture with Acrisure, which holds the naming rights to the Steelers’ stadium. Acrisure reportedly signed a 15-year deal for $150 million for the rights to what used to be Heinz Field.

Does this have anything to do with the Steelers’ interest in Wilson? Likely not, but the conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but notice the connections.

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