Saturday, May 14, 2022

Steelers could trade quarterback for draft pick, analyst says

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The Pittsburgh Steelers could move one of their quarterbacks before the start of the season.

Mason Rudolph’s days with the Steelers are over, according to Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey. As Tansey notes, the four-year-old veteran quarterback will likely go into camp as the third quarterback behind rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett and free-agent signee Mitch Trubisky.

With either Pickett or Trubisky likely opening 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 camp as the first two quarterbacks on the depth chart, with Rudolph third,” says Tansey. “Rudolph has no way to play in Pittsburgh. He could ask for his release to pursue a backup job elsewhere, or a team in need of a quarterback could pick him in a sixth- or seventh-round trade.

Rudolph enters offseason activity as the only quarterback on the Steelers roster with experience in their offensive system. He’s at a disadvantage, however, considering the franchise is clearly built around Pickett as the future, with Trubisky being the likely placeholder in case the rookie isn’t ready.

The Steelers signed Trubisky to a two-year, $14.3 million deal with a $5.3 million offseason signing bonus. Barring a disastrous performance in training camp, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers releasing Trubisky with a nearly $5.3 million dead cap fee.

On the other hand, Rudolph can be cut for a little over $1 million dead cap hit. 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 — Tansey notes — for the 26-year-old quarterback.

In four seasons with the Steelers, Rudolph holds career stats of 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions for an 80.9 quarterback rating and a 5-4-1 record. Not the most impressive numbers, but Rudolph managed to stay in Pittsburgh for his fifth season.

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While the Steelers continue to claim that it is an open quarterback competition between 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 sufficient indication that they don’t believe he did is a quarterback from the start.

“It happened to Rudolph more than a year ago when the Steelers decided to bring Ben Roethlisberger back for another season, even though he was clearly in decline and Rudolph had been the supposed starter-in-waiting for three years,” Starkey said on 3. May. “That was the time to exonerate Roethlisberger and give Rudolph his chance – but only if the Steelers actually believed in him.

They clearly haven’t – and who could blame them?”

Strange as it may sound, Rudolph is at a disadvantage compared to Pickett and Trubisky. While he knows the Steelers’ system better than any quarterback, he’s at greatest risk of being cut or traded.

If Pittsburgh can pick a future draft pick for Rudolph, the Steelers will likely sever ties with their former starting quarterback.

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