The Pittsburgh Steelers might find a perfect landing spot for one of their veterans.
As noted by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, one proposed trade scenario would see the Steelers trade quarterback Mason Rudolph to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Knox argues that the season-ending injury suffered by starting quarterback Trey Lance should motivate the 49ers to look for an experienced replacement for Jimmy Garoppolo.
“The 49ers have a starting-quality quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo because they restructured his contract and kept him for the 2022 season,” Knox said. “However, San Francisco could use an experienced backup with rookie Brock Purdy being the only other quarterback on the roster.”
Rudolph is currently the third quarterback behind starter Mitch Trubisky and first-round rookie Kenny Pickett. The Steelers have yet to trade the fifth-year quarterback, however.
According to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette In late August, Pittsburgh is unlikely to make a deal with Rudolph — despite interest from other teams.
“Source: Steelers expect to keep Mason Rudolph and not trade him,” Dulac reported Aug. 29.
The idea that the Steelers want to keep Rudolph as an insurance policy makes sense given his experience in the Pittsburgh system. He is the only remaining quarterback to have played under offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system. He also holds a 5-4-1 career record as the Steelers’ starting quarterback.
However, as Knox notes, Pittsburgh is spending $4 million on a third-string quarterback this season. Not only does Rudolph make more money than a typical third-string QB, his cap number is actually higher than both Trubisky and Pickett.
“Rudolph is playing on a one-year, $6 million contract, so the Steelers could make a significant savings by switching a player they don’t use,” Knox says. “The 49ers, who have $2.5 million in cap space, would need to make room to close a deal. However, they could use the insurance more than a Steelers team that could hand offense to Pickett this season anyway.
Considering the 49ers are an NFC contender in dire need of an insurance policy, the Steelers would be wise to capitalize on San Francisco’s need for an experienced backup QB by offloading Trubisky for Draft Capital.
Before the season began, Rudolph addressed trade rumors by leaving them to the Pittsburgh front office.
About Noah Strackbein from Sports Illustrated:
“It’s a decision between my agent and Omar [Khan] and the front office,” said Rudolph. “I’ll leave that to these guys. Right now I’m on this team and I’ll do my best to help these guys prepare.”
While it’s true that Trubisky hasn’t been impressive in his two games as a starter — the Steelers have only managed two offensive touchdowns — if Pittsburgh eventually backs away from the veteran, they’ll go with Pickett as the starter and Trubisky as the backup.
That leaves little reason why the Steelers should keep Rudolph.