The first in a position-by-position series examining the Steelers' roster in advance of the start of free agency:
QUARTERBACKS** (Free Agent Scorecard at this position: None)
It was zeroes across the statistical board for him in his first season as the veteran backup, and that's always the preferred way to go for a team employing a franchise quarterback. No disrespect to Gradkowski, but if he plays out the remainder of his contract without ever having to take a snap after the preseason, his time here will be remembered fondly.
He didn't take a snap once the preseason ended and was on the inactive list for every regular season game, which is exactly the combination a non-desperate team would prefer from a rookie quarterback picked on the third day of the draft. Call this a redshirt season for Jones, but he has to understand that NFL teams don't permit many of those. The start of this offseason program through the 2014 preseason is a critical time for Jones.
While it's accurate to point out that he bears a measure of responsibility for the 0-4 start – four lost fumbles and five interceptions that the opponents turned into five touchdowns – it's also fair to acknowledge the statistical contributions he made to the 6-2 record during the second half of the season – 16 touchdown passes and five interceptions. And none of the numbers can measure the advances the offense was able to make as a result of his being the quarterback instead of simply playing quarterback. In the team vernacular, Roethlisberger's arrow is pointing up.