Countless NFL observers believe that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph has been downright unlucky in terms of the hand he has been dealt since being a 3rd-round pick of the Steelers in the 2018 Draft. That said, his days in Pittsburgh may be numbered — if the escalating trade chatter is any indication.
Yet the 27-year-old Oklahoma State product insists he’s doing a good job of blocking out the trade talk — except when asked about it by members of the media.
Mason Rudolph on ‘The Rat Poison on Social Media’
“I think I hear it from you guys, but I don’t read it,” said Rudolph on Thursday. “I really don’t. I try not to read the rat poison on social media, which can get to you. My friends and family know not to send me that crap,” he related to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Instead, he continues to focus on trying to be the best quarterback and teammate he can be — and then let the chips fall where they may.
“All I care about is this coaching staff right now,” added Rudolph. “(A trade) may be so, but I can’t control it. I don’t try to speculate on that. My teammates and coaches are the opinions I care about. Anything else is water under the bridge.”
More than that, Rudolph says he’s “proud” about the way he has competed for the starting quarterback job this summer, even though he has had very limited first-team reps and won’t get the opportunity to start a preseason game.
“I would have enjoyed to take more first team reps, but that didn’t happen,” Rudolph told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “I think I made the most of the reps I did get, and that is all you can do when you play quarterback.”
To be sure, Rudolph has played quite well this summer when given the opportunity. In two preseason games he has completed 26 of 36 passes for 220 yards, with two touchdown passes and no interceptions (106.3 passer rating). That includes an impressive 26-yard TD pass to rookie wide receiver George Pickens; he also led the team’s third-string offense to a come-from-behind win at Jacksonville.
But despite that, free agent acquisition and former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky will start Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions, much like he started the first two preseason games. And 2022 first-round pick Kenny Pickett will be the first quarterback off the bench for the second consecutive week, as noted by Varley.
That’s a strong indication that Rudolph is headed for No. 3 quarterback status, if he remains with the team.
Rudolph Remains No. 2 on the Depth Chart
On the other hand, it’s worth noting that as of August 26, Rudolph remains the top backup on Pittsburgh’s depth chart. And the Steelers might be hesitant to deal Rudolph away, in part because Pickett has yet to face another team’s first-team defense and in part because the Steelers might want him as insurance against quarterback injuries, which, it should be noted, have already struck the Carolina Panthers.
In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Panthers engage in trade talks with the Steelers, as backup Sam Darnold had to be carted off the field during Carolina’s preseason finale on Friday evening.
But if Rudolph has already played his last regular-season game for the Steelers he will finish with a 5-4-1 record in 17 appearances. All told, he’s completed 236 of 384 passes (61.5%) for 2,366 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, as per Pro Football Reference.