On Tuesday Sept. 6 Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that Mitch Trubisky would be his starting quarterback — and also revealed that rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett would be Trubisky’s backup for the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Never mind that Pickett was listed as the No. 3 QB on the first depth chart of the 2022 season, which had been issued a day earlier. The QB depth chart switcheroo got the fanbase buzzing, but for Rudolph the change is literally game changing, as he’ll likely be inactive this weekend.
Has Steelers QB Mason Rudolph Been ‘Treated Fairly’?
Asked about all the above during his press availability on Wednesday, Rudolph told the assembled media: “That’s the hand I’ve been dealt. I’ve got to do the best with it and see what happens.”
He also reiterated that he’s happy with how he performed in terms of competing for the starting quarterback job.
“I thought I competed well. I was happy with the way I played in camp, practice and games,” he added.
As to whether he’s been “treated fairly,” Rudolph said: “The hand I was dealt is the hand I was dealt and thought I did the best I could with it. I controlled what I could control. I thought I performed — there’s always mistakes — but for the most part I was proud of it.”
Mason Rudolph: Trade Decisions Are ‘Between My Agent and Omar’
Last but certainly not least, the fifth-year quarterback was asked: “Is it your preference to stay in Pittsburgh or is it your preference to find a new place to play?”
Notably, he didn’t say he wants to stay in Pittsburgh, nor did he indicate he wants to leave.
“You know, those decisions are between my agent and (Steelers general manager) Omar (Khan) and the front office,” he began. “I’m going to leave that to those guys. For now I’m on this team and I’ll do the best I can to help the guys prepare and do everything I can from a mental perspective to help the two (other quarterbacks), if they need any help.”
One has to admire how well Rudolph has handled the situation in which he finds himself. He signed a one-year contract extension last year, knowing that 2021 was likely to be Ben Roethlisberger’s last year, thereby giving him the chance to compete for a starting job. Except he never really had the opportunity to displace Trubisky, despite a very strong preseason in which he completed 26 of 39 passes (66.6%) with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
In fact, he started training camp behind Trubisky and finished the preseason behind both Trubisky and Pickett, the former of whom was the No. 2 overall pick in the draft in 2017.
To date, the Steelers haven’t displayed any inclination to trade Rudolph. But it’s conceivable that a mid-season quarterback injury could prompt a team to make a trade offer attractive enough to consider. More likely, Rudolph will spend 2022 as a kind of insurance policy in case the injury bug bites Trubisky or Pickett or both. After that, the former third-round pick (2018) will have the opportunity to test the fresh agent market.
For now, though, Rudolph and his fellow quarterbacks are totally focused on the team’s Week 1 opponent.
“We’re moving on now,” concluded Rudolph. “We’ve got a game now, so that’s of the utmost importance.”