The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed free-agent quarterback Michael Vick to a one-year deal, the team announced Tuesday.
Vick met with the Steelers in Pittsburgh earlier in the day, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson, as the team was in the market for a backup to Ben Roethlisberger after Bruce Gradkowski dislocated a finger in his left hand during last week's preseason game against the Green Bay Packers.
In a corresponding move, the Steelers placed Gradkowski on the reserve/injured list. He is having surgery Tuesday, a source told Schefter, and is expected to miss three to four weeks, leaving Landry Jones as the only other full-time quarterback on the Steelers' roster prior to the Vick signing.
"There's not a throw on the field he can't make from an arm strength standpoint," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's a very experienced guy at what he does at this point in his career and the mobility is still unique even at 35."
Vick, 35, spent last season with the New York Jets behind Geno Smith, appearing in 10 games overall, starting three. He completed 64 of 121 passes for 604 yards, throwing three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 26 times for 153 yards, and engineered an upset over the Steelers on Nov. 9 by throwing for two touchdowns in a 20-13 victory, his lone triumph during an otherwise forgettable season. The Jets made no move to retain him.
Prior to his stint in New York, Vick had resurrected his career with Philadelphia following a nearly two-year prison stay for financing a dogfighting ring. He made the Pro Bowl in 2010 after throwing for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns as a member of the Eagles.
Roethlisberger said he supported the potential addition of Vick if the move helps the team. When asked about the QB's past, Roethlisberger said, "This is a locker room. It's about football. That's what matters to me most."
Roethlisberger is known in the Pittsburgh area as an advocate for dogs. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation helps support K-9 units of police and fire departments.
Roethlisberger said most of the players in the Steelers locker room "probably grew up wanting to be Michael Vick" on the field because of his "freakish athleticism" while with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Steelers' alternatives to Vick were limited. The free-agent quarterback pool is dried up, and Tomlin revealed Gradkowski could need two hand surgeries after he injured himself Sunday against the Packers while trying to scoop up a fumble. Vick was the best option available.
The Steelers are sensitive to Vick's high-profile past, Tomlin said.
"Rest assured he's done a lot since he's gone through some of the things he's gone through," Tomlin said. "His track record to this point in that regard speaks for itself."
Information from ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler and The Associated Press was used in this report.