The Pittsburgh Steelers could move one of their quarterbacks before the season starts.
According to Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report, Mason Rudolph’s days with the Steelers are numbered. As Tansey notes, the four-year veteran quarterback will likely enter training camp as the third quarterback behind rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett and free agent signee Mitch Trubisky.
With either Pickett or Trubisky likely to open the season as the Steelers’ starting quarterback, that means Rudolph will either be cut or traded for a draft pick.
“Trubisky and Pickett will go into training camp as the first two quarterbacks on the depth chart with Rudolph third,” says Tansey. “Rudolph does not have a path to playing time in Pittsburgh. He could ask for his release to pursue a backup job elsewhere, or a team with a quarterback need could spend a sixth- or seventh-round pick on him in a trade.”
Why Steelers Could Cut Ties With Rudolph
Rudolph enters offseason activities as the only quarterback on the Steelers’ roster with experience in their offensive system. However, he’s at a disadvantage considering the franchise is clearly building around Pickett as the future with Trubisky as the likely placeholder in the event the rookie is not ready.
The Steelers signed Trubisky to a two-year, $14.3 million deal with a $5.3 million signing bonus in the offseason. Barring a disastrous performance in training camp, it’s hard to envision the Steelers releasing Trubisky with nearly a $5.3 million dead cap charge.
On the other hand, Rudolph can be cut for a dead cap hit of slightly more than $1 million. However, the Steelers could find a more suitable deal in the form of a trade with a team willing to trade a low draft pick — as Tansey notes — for the 26-year-old quarterback.
Across four seasons with the Steelers, Rudolph holds career statistics of 16 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions for an 80.9 quarterback rating and an 5-4-1 record. Not exactly the most impressive of numbers, but Rudolph has managed to remain in Pittsburgh entering his fifth season.
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Starkey: Steelers Don’t Believe in Rudolph
While the Steelers continue to maintain that it’s an open quarterback competition among all three players, Rudolph’s history in Pittsburgh seems to say otherwise. As Joe Starkey of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, the fact that the Steelers opted for an over-the-hill Ben Roethlisberger over Rudolph last season is indication enough that they don’t believe he’s a starting quarterback.
“It happened with Rudolph more than a year ago, when the Steelers decided to bring back Ben Roethlisberger for another season, even though he was clearly in decline and Rudolph had been the alleged starter-in-waiting for three years,” said Starkey on May 3. “That was the time to ease out Roethlisberger and give Rudolph his chance — but only if the Steelers actually believed in him.
Clearly, they did not — and who could blame them?”
As odd as it may sound, Rudolph is at a disadvantage compared to Pickett and Trubisky. Despite knowing the Steelers’ system better than either quarterback, he’s at the biggest risk of being cut or traded.
If Pittsburgh can fetch a future draft pick for Rudolph, the Steelers will likely cut ties with their former starting quarterback.