The Pittsburgh Steelers have a decision to make with quarterback Mitch Trubisky this offseason. Trubisky is due to make $10.625 million in 2023 as the Steelers backup quarterback, and the team can save $8 million against the cap if he is released.
Steelers owner Art Rooney II, though, says that’s not likely to happen.
“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. “I think he showed that he can be that.
“We can win with him.”
Trubisky went 2-3 as Pittsburgh’s starter in 2022 and struggled during a relief appearance in Week 14 when he threw 3 interceptions against the Baltimore Ravens. But he rebounded to beat the Carolina Panthers the following week, and he led the Steelers on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive in Week 6 to knock off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What Trubisky Would Provide as Steelers Backup Quarterback
As he has been for much of his career, Trubisky was up and down for the Steelers in 2022. In addition to victories versus the Buccaneers and Panthers, his highlights included beating the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1.
But Trubisky was also largely ineffective from Weeks 2-4. He lost his job at halftime in Week 4 versus the New York Jets.
While he does own a 31-24 career record as an NFL starter, Trubisky is too inconsistent to be a franchise quarterback. But lots of failed starters turn into competent backup quarterbacks.
Trubisky plays well enough in spots that he can be reliable as any backup signal caller in the league. In 2022, he proved he can be effective off the bench and give the Steelers a chance to win.
Some Steelers fans might value an additional $8 million in cap space more than that, but Rooney appears to value those backup quarterback intangibles Trubisky possesses.
He will also be familiar with Matt Canada’s offense, something that no other potentially cheaper backup the Steelers could pursue will be.
Statistically, Trubisky finished 2022 with a 65.0% completion percentage and a 7.0 yards per pass average along with 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Trubisky Wants to Return to Pittsburgh?
Trubisky is under contract for the 2023 season, so he doesn’t really have a choice whether or not he plays for the Steelers next fall.
But head coach Mike Tomlin has famously coined that he and the Steelers “want volunteers, not hostages.”
With that in mind, if Trubisky voiced enough displeasure with his backup role, it’s worth wondering whether he would still return to Pittsburgh for 2023.
Before the season even ended, Trubisky expressed regret about his decision to sign with the Steelers on the first day of free agency.
“Everything happened kind of quick,” Trubisky told ESPN’s Brooke Pryor on January 7. “I didn’t really have a long time to think of the decision. I wish I would’ve taken some more time and not just signed the first day of free agency. Looking back on it, just try to do some more research.
“But I felt like they were interested. I felt like it was a good opportunity to possibly get back on the field, but nothing’s guaranteed.”
When Trubisky signed with the Steelers, the team only had Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins in their quarterback room. But Kenny Pickett fell to the Steelers at No. 20 in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the team drafted him.
Despite having Pickett, Rooney and the Steelers appear willing to honor the contract they agreed to with Trubisky last March. But the question is whether Trubisky is equally excited to return without the opportunity to compete for the starting job.