Steelers Expected to Trim Fat, Ditch $14 Million Backup

Getty Mike Tomlin coaches against the Eagles.

Throw it against a wall and see what sticks. We’re only one month away from NFL teams needing to be under the 2023 salary cap. Since the league informed teams of the historic $224.8 million salary cap on January 30, media has gone into a frenzy of forecasting where teams will trim some fat, whether by releasing players or restructuring contracts.

ESPN’s NFL insider Jeremy Fowler expects one of Pittsburgh’s salary cap casualties to be everybody’s favorite backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky:

Trubisky is a name to watch in the coming weeks. The Steelers would like to keep him, but his $8 million salary on a $10.6 million cap hit is steeper than usual for a Pittsburgh backup. Miami could be a good fit for him, as the Dolphins need a capable veteran behind Tua Tagovailoa in case concussion issues persist.

Teams must be under the salary cap by March 15, 2023, the start of the new league year. As many teams are this time of the offseason, the Steelers are in a bit of a pickle. Some financial juggling by general manager Omar Khan will be needed to get Pittsburgh cap compliant, as it’s $3,559,887 million in the red.

Since the advent of the salary cap in 1994, the only season it did not stay level or increase was after the height of the pandemic in 2021, per René Bugner.

Steelers Want to Keep Mitch Trubisky on the Roster

No one outside the Pittsburgh Steelers organization knows what the team will do with Mitch Trubisky. The second-overall pick of the 2017 NFL draft agreed to terms on what became a two-year $14 million contract as the NFL’s legal tampering window opened on March 14, 2022.

$10 million may not seem like much in NFL money, but it’s a pretty penny given his backup status. He remains under contract through the 2023 season but would save Pittsburgh $8 million against the cap if released.

If you believe Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II, Trubisky is part of their near future plans.

“I expect Mitch [Trubisky] will be on the roster next year and be an effective backup if we need him,” Rooney told KDKA’s Bob Pompeani on January 26. “I think he showed that he can be that. We can win with him.”

Steelers’ Options for Quarterback Kenny Pickett Backup

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been linked to a number of backup quarterback options since speculation of Mitch Trubisky’s departure began. But he’s not the only signal caller who could be leaving Pittsburgh for green pastures. It’s all but official that veteran Mason Rudolph, selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft, will be wearing different colors in 2023.

Who could take Rudolph and possibly Trubisky’s places? It’s a weighty decision, given Pickett’s concussion history. Last season, the San Francisco 49ersquarterback situation caused a bit of panic across the league and perhaps heightened the value of solid positional depth.

While a handful will re-sign with their respective teams, there are currently 38 impending free agents. Removing now-retired Tom Brady and priority free agent options Jimmy Garoppolo, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson and Daniel Jones, plenty of options will still remain for the Steelers.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett is the latest quarterback linked to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Philadelphia Eagles’ Gardner Minshew‘s name has also been tossed around.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the backup situation in Pittsburgh this offseason.

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