Steelers QB Floated as Replacement for Former First-Round Draft Pick

Getty Steelers HC Mike Tomlin reacts on the sideline.

Mason Rudolph, the starter-capable quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been relegated to the bench. After a hopeful start to 2022 became bleaker as the year rolled on, Rudolph finds himself on Pittsburgh’s inactive list since the season began.

Though the Steelers tugged on his heartstrings, Rudolph has been nothing but professional. “I think it’s about how you react to the hand you’ve been dealt and how you overcome adversity,” Rudolph said via Fan Nation’s All Steelers. “I think I’ve done that well.”

And why would Rudolph present himself in any other light? After all, he’s auditioning for the next phase of his career. How he reacts in the present affects his future.

That future could come sooner than later, as the San Francisco 49ers are down a quarterback.

The Trey Lance experiment didn’t last long in San Francisco. Near the end of the first quarter of their Sept. 18 tilt with the Seattle Seahawks, the 49ers’ former first-round draft pick was carted off the field. It was later disclosed that Lance sustained two injuries to his right ankle: a fibula fracture and a ligament disruption. He’s out for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Should San Francisco want to add quality depth behind now-starter Jimmy Garoppolo, it should look no further than Pittsburgh and Mason Rudolph.

Though it might be considered a knee-jerk reaction by the 49ers to trade a mid-to-late-round 2023 draft pick for Rudolph, perhaps it would be a wise move. The 49ers can’t be very comfortable with Brock Purdy backing up a fragile Garoppolo who’s managed only one healthy season since San Francisco named him the full-time starter in 2017.

Mason Rudolph Trade Rumors

The Pittsburgh Steelers signed Mitch Trubisky at the onset of free agency in March of 2022. A month later, the team selected Kenny Pickett with their first pick of the NFL draft. The writing was on the wall for Pittsburgh’s veteran and immediate talk of unloading him circulated.

Nothing viable ever surfaced until mid-August when 93.7 The Fan’s Andrew Filliponi reported that a former NFL general manager said the Detroit Lions were interested in trading for Rudolph.

Shortly after, Steelers general manager Omar Khan quashed any rumors by making a statement. “We really like our room,” Khan said on the All Things Covered podcast. “We have three starter-capable guys in that room between Mitch and Mason and Kenny. We feel there is a bright future for us with respect to that position, but time will tell. There’s still a lot of football.”

The Steelers are all-too-familiar with how quickly the need for a third quarterback can come into play. In 2019, Pittsburgh traded third-stringer Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars days before the start of the season. But only having two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster left them in a lurch. When Ben Roethlisberger was placed on injured reserve and Rudolph was concussed versus the Baltimore Ravens, they were forced to promote Devlin “Duck” Hodges off the practice squad.

Given those 2019 nightmares, the Steelers are likely to hold onto Mason Rudolph — unless they’re presented with an offer they can’t refuse.

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