The Pittsburgh Steelers could have their franchise quarterback in Kenny Pickett. But the organization still faces a barrage of questions behind center this offseason.
Speaking to reporters at the start of the NFL combine on February 28, Steelers general manager Omar Khan tried to answer some of those questions about the team’s backup quarterback situation.
“Mitch has been awesome since the day he got here,” Khan said. “How he’s been with Kenny has been great.
“I look forward to having him around here for a long time.”
While he was completely complimentary of Trubisky, Khan also refused to rule out fellow backup quarterback Mason Rudolph coming back to the Steelers.
“The door is still open [for Rudolph returning].”
That differs from the media speculation the past several weeks around the Steelers backup quarterbacks.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac has speculated that the Steelers could acquire a middle-round draft pick for Trubisky. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly has written this offseason that Trubisky is too expensive to keep as a backup quarterback.
Trubisky is set to possess a $10.625 million cap hit during 2023. The Steelers can release him and save $8 million.
Kaboly has also repeated throughout the offseason that Rudolph will not be back with the Steelers next season.
Khan Wants Trubisky to Stay With the Steelers
Khan, who is entering his first full offseason as general manager of the Steelers, speaking about Trubisky returning is certainly noteworthy. But his comments probably should be taken with a grain of salt.
At the very least, Khan isn’t going to express the idea of not wanting Trubisky to return because that could lower his value in a potential trade. It’s also never been the Steelers way for the Steelers to publicly say negative things about their players.
Trubisky is under contract, so Khan sounds like he’s working under the assumption that he will return for simply that reason.
Khan not ruling out the return of Rudolph, though, does indicate that the Steelers could be at least considering life in 2023 without Trubisky. Seemingly the only way Rudolph returns is if he becomes the primary backup to Kenny Pickett. That only happens, of course, if the Steelers trade or release Trubisky.
Coach speak has become a popular term in football over recent years. Khan appeared to be engaged in “general manager speak” with at least some of his comments to the media on February 28.
If Khan had his heart completely set on Trubisky returning, then he could rule out re-signing Rudolph.
Art Rooney II’s Message on Trubisky’s Future
While it may have been partially “general manager speak,” Khan’s comments on Trubisky gelled with what Steelers owner Art Rooney II said about the quarterback in January.
“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.”
Trubisky owns a 31-24 career record as an NFL starter, which includes a 2-3 mark with the Steelers from 2022. He also threw a fourth-quarter touchdown in relief of an injured Pickett during a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The veteran quarterback made some comments to the media that led to some questioning whether Trubisky was interested in returning to Pittsburgh as a backup in 2023. Most notably, Trubisky expressed regret about signing so quickly with the Steelers in free agency.
But Trubisky and Pickett shared on social media that they have already begun training this offseason with Steelers wide receivers in Florida.
That’s an act of a quarterback who wants to be back. So far this offseason, the Steelers have expressed publicly that they want Trubisky to return too.