The Pittsburgh Steelers hopped off the rickety Charlie Batch-Byron Leftwich express this month when they landed backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, but he reportedly wasn't the team's first choice.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that the Steelers "really wanted" Brian Hoyer, a move that became impossible after the Arizona Cardinals slapped a second-round, $2.023 million tender on the 27-year-old passer, which he signed this week.

The Steelers were planning to sign Hoyer as a free agent after he spent part of last season on Pittsburgh's roster, according to Bouchette. Hoyer was signed in November after Ben Roethlisberger and Leftwich were injured but then released in December when cornerback Josh Victorian was promoted off the practice squad.

Few coaches have a better read on Pittsburgh's thinking than former longtime Steelers aide Bruce Arians, who -- now embedded as Arizona's head coach -- "must have known how much (the Steelers) wanted (Hoyer) back," according to Bouchette. Hence the second-round tender. Hoyer's stock was on the rise as free agency neared, and it's likely Pittsburgh would have faced competition.

Bouchette reported the Steelers are now considering taking a signal-caller in the mid-to-later rounds of next month's draft. Team brass dined with Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray before his pro day last week and general manager Kevin Colbert is on record saying a developmental passer is on the agenda as Big Ben delves deeper into his 30s.