Pittsburgh Steelers position outlook: Quarterbacks

This is the first in a series that takes a closer look at the Pittsburgh Steelers' position groups with the free agency and the draft approaching.

Under contract: Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones are all signed through next season. Roethlisberger and Gradkowski are each entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Free agents: None.

The good: Roethlisberger is seemingly getting better with age. Three of his four 4,000-yard passing seasons have come since he turned 29, and Roethlisberger shared the NFL passing title last season with New Orleans' Drew Brees, as each threw for 4,952 yards. Roethlisberger is in line for another big contract after signing an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008, the most lucrative in franchise history. The Steelers should be able to lock up Roethlisberger for the rest of his career and create immediate room under the salary cap by lowering his cap number ($18.395 million) for 2015.

The bad: Gradkowski is a capable reserve, but is Landry Jones a viable No. 2 quarterback if the Steelers don’t bring back Gradkowski after the 2015 season? The Steelers have little idea what they have in Jones, who has yet to suit up for a game in two seasons and has produced mixed results in preseason action.

The burning question: What will Roethlisberger’s final contract with the Steelers look like? It will probably be five or six years with possible compensation exceeding $100 million. For comparison sake Brees signed a five-year, $100 million contact that included $55 million in guaranteed money in 2012 when he was 33 years old. Roethlisberger turns 33 on March 2.

The money: Roethlisberger’s base salary is $11.6 million in 2015, but that will change with his new deal. Gradkowski and Jones are scheduled to make $1.55 million and $585,000, respectively, in 2015, so the Steelers don’t have a lot of cash tied up in Roethlisberger’s backups.

Draft priority: Low. It’s too early to start looking for Roethlisberger’s eventual successor. And the Steelers have too many other needs to spend a pick on a backup quarterback after taking Jones in the fourth round of the 2013 draft.

He said it: “I hear that term thrown around too often to be quite honest with you. If you follow professional football you would think half the teams in the league have a franchise quarterback, and we all know that’s not the case. We have a good quarterback. I like him. I would like to keep him.” – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on the importance of having a franchise quarterback.