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Steelers reportedly expected to explore adding QB Ryan Tannehill in free agency as competition for Kenny Pickett

The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to explore adding quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the offseason to provide competition for Kenny Pickett, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports.

Tannehill is slated to become a free agent after spending the last five seasons with the Tennessee Titans. The Steelers hired Arthur Smith as their offensive coordinator last week. Smith spent two seasons as Tannehill's offensive coordinator in Tennessee before working as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons the last three.

Mike Tomlin wants competition for Kenny Pickett

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced in January at his season-ending news conference that he wants competition for Pickett next season. Pickett sat with injury toward the end of the season then remained on the bench in the playoffs when he was healthy in favor of backup Mason Rudolph.

Rudolph's hitting the market as a free agent, and Tomlin doesn't want to enter training camp without a second quarterback to compete for the job.

"There will be competition," Tomlin said on Jan. 18. "I’m appreciative of (Pickett's) efforts and where he is and excited to continue working with him. But certainly, he will be challenged from a competition perspective moving forward."

Pickett will be playing on the third year of his four-year, $14 million rookie contract he signed after the Steelers selected him in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft. He started 13 games as a rookie then 12 in the 2023 season.

Pickett threw for just six touchdowns alongside four interceptions in those 12 starts while completing 62% of his passes for 172.5 yards per game. He totaled seven touchdowns and nine interceptions as a rookie.

The Steelers ranked 25th in the NFL in total and passing offense and 28th in points scored in 2023. Pittsburgh made the playoffs as a wild-card despite the offensive struggles thanks in large part to a defense that forced 27 turnovers. They lost in the first round to the Buffalo Bills.

Tannehill, 35, was productive for much of his five seasons with the Titans. He tallied 90 touchdowns and 40 interceptions while completing 66.6% of his passes for 215.6 yards per game in 63 games with the Titans. Tennessee drafted quarterback Will Levis in the second round of last year's draft, then made him the starter for the second half of the season as it looked to transition to the future.

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