MAY 17: Rudolph is officially back with the Steelers on a third contract. The sixth-year veteran put pen to paper Wednesday and will rejoin Pickett and Trubisky in Pittsburgh’s quarterback room.
MAY 15: Not only are the Steelers retaining supplanted starter Mitch Trubisky, they are set to bring back Mason Rudolph as well. The longtime Ben Roethlisberger backup is expected to re-sign with the team, Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com tweets.
Rumored to be headed elsewhere earlier this offseason, Rudolph is on track to play a sixth season in Pittsburgh. The former third-round pick drifted to the Steelers’ third-string option after Kenny Pickett‘s early emergence, but the team still values the veteran’s presence.
This deal may not be across the goal line yet, with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler indicating (via Twitter) it will be contingent on boxes being checked on an upcoming visit. The signing is still expected, however. Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan first reported the Rudolph-Steelers agreement (Twitter link). Rudolph’s visit is scheduled for Tuesday, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets, noting the longtime Steeler intends to re-sign at that point.
While a January rumor pointed to Rudolph aiming to land elsewhere — likely with the goal of returning to a QB2 role — the Steelers kept him on their radar. The Oklahoma State product is settling for another year as a third-stringer. Trubisky began last season as Pittsburgh’s starter but was quickly usurped by Pickett, who is now the team’s unquestioned QB1. Rudolph hovered in the background as this process played out, finishing a contract he signed when the team’s depth chart remained Roethlisberger-Rudolph.
The Steelers extended Rudolph during the 2021 offseason, pushing his contract through 2022. Trade rumors encircled Rudolph ahead of Pickett’s first season, but the Steelers hung onto their veteran reserve arm. While Tua Tagovailoa‘s concussions overshadowed other QBs’ head injuries last year, Pickett sustained two as a rookie. Ensuring multiple veterans are in place makes sense for the Steelers, though Trubisky’s status may be worth monitoring as well.
Trubisky signed a two-year deal worth $14.3MM in 2022. The contract carries a second-year cap hit of $10.6MM. GM Omar Khan said the team wants to have Trubisky around for the long haul, but it should be expected the former No. 2 overall pick will want to at least attempt to become a bridge-starter option elsewhere. An injury to a team’s starter or backup could prompt trade inquiries, should the Steelers follow through with this Rudolph reunion. Trubisky is set to earn $8MM in base salary this season. The Steelers also have rookie UDFA Tanner Morgan on the roster, but the Minnesota alum now profiles as a camp arm/potential practice squad body.
Rudolph, 27, served as Roethlisberger’s backup during the final years of the future Hall of Famer’s career. When Big Ben’s elbow injury knocked him out in Week 2 of the 2019 season, Rudolph stepped in as Pittsburgh’s primary starter. That stretch did not go particularly well, with Devlin Hodges also earning starts, and involved the infamous Myles Garrett helmet strike. Rudolph remained in the organization’s plans once Roethlisberger re-emerged in 2020 and started a game apiece during the 2020 and ’21 seasons. Overall, Rudolph has 10 starts on his NFL resume. He is a career 61.5% passer (6.2 yards per attempt) who holds a 16-11 TD-INT ratio.
24 comments on “Steelers Re-Sign QB Mason Rudolph”
Odd move. Just let the UDFA from Minnesota play 3rd string.
You obviously hope to never need to go to the third string QB but if you have to it’s a much better situation having that guy be someone who has been on the team longer than all of the skill position players he would be throwing to and has made several starts in the league as opposed to a rookie who wasn’t drafted and will be getting zero reps with the first stringers in training camp.
eh 3rd string doesn’t matter really.
still a chance he gets cut during the preseason
I disagree Jimmy. The entire league has witnessed what Rudolph can do on the field and there is zero interest in his services. 3rd string should be a dirt cheap developmental guy, like a late pick or UDFA, not a 5th year retread.
I’ve heard rumors that every team will be required to carry 3 QBs on the roster
Developmental guys would get more reps on the practice squad than being qb 3 and Rudolph isn’t going to break the bank. It’s not a big upside move, as third qb’s never are, but it’s a miniscule risk that the extra money Rudolph will be making versus an undrafted rookie will have any impact whatsoever.
The UDFA from Minnesota will more than likely be on the practice squad
Kind of surprising in that, if you believe Dulac of the Post-Gazette, Rudolph spent the season seething that despite a strong training camp, he was never given a chance
It’s hard to get a good read on Rudolph. Offhand, he looks to be a bit slow in the pocket and has tunnel vision. But since his ego was stratospheric, Roethlisberger never took to the guy and like Rodgers, took him being drafted as a personal affront
So much for being a mentor
I don’t know that Rudolph will ever get a chance, anywhere. But as for the signing, why not?
Seen that movie. He took a .700 team to a .500 record. That should have told you someone better is out there.
Apparently wasn’t drawing much interest on the open market.
Why? They have former savior of the Bears Mitch Trubisky backing up Pickett. Qb 3 should be some development project.
Are the Steelers worried that if Trubisky or Rudolph go elsewhere they will give away all those valuable offensive secrets that resulted in a team passer rating ranked 30th?
I’m thinking the Steelers aren’t sold on Pickett or his health with his concussion concerns. Pickett has just as good a chance to be replaced sometime this year as he does as being a top quarterback
I’ve said from the start that I applauded the selection of Pickett. I think he’ll be a good QB. He suffers most from having an inept offensive coordinator who limits both he and the offense
And that said, I think the jury is out on whether he can be the franchise QB—the man—who can lead the Steelers forward
Nothing I saw last year tells me he is, including the two game-winning drives and the 7-2 finish against average teams
I said previously that I think Kenny will be a “good” QB. But in the modern era of the NFL, you need a great QB to push the team to great heights—guys like Mahomes, Burrow, Allen
Pickett doesn’t need to be great for the Steelers to go to the playoffs or really, to be a 9 or 10 win team.
That’s where I think the Steelers are right now.
Honest post. I feel the same. The years of running the football and playing good defense and winning a Super Bowl is over. 3 of the 4 teams left last year had the top 3 best quarterbacks and not much of a running game
I think the concussion concerns are real. I think they also aren’t sold on Mitch as the starter if Pickett goes down. Having another experienced option when both #1 and #2 carry risk makes sense.
Not sure I agree he’s at risk of being replaced due to performance. Anything could happen, but I don’t think it’s remotely likely unless its a mid-game benching during a blowout. His question marks are much more about his ceiling than his floor.
If he doesn’t take a significant step this year though I think they will start looking at options for 2024. Though I suspect they’d ultimately axe Canada before giving up on Kenny.
Yeah, and that’s the irony in all of this. Canada’s play calling kind of colors our view of Pickett’s abilities. You know, I liked the Pickett that played for Pitt more than the one I saw last year. The offense was wide open, he consistently hit guys down the field
You’d like to think someone has had a meeting with Canada about his vanilla offense but who knows?
stealing more money
Don’t get the Rudolph hate from Steelers fans. He’s a very good backup.
What? He was given the chance to be “a very good backup” as you claim. And all Rudolph did was lose his job to an undrafted division 3 football player who now plays in the Canadian Football league. What are you referring to?
Had a concussion and got the job back after ducks magic wore off. He went 5-3 as a starter that year. He’s no stud qb but what backups are? The point im making is there are few backups who are head and shoulders ahead of him, and Steelers fans act like they made the worst move ever by bringing him back.
He’s so good he’s a #3 quarterback for a team that really doesn’t know if they have a #1 quarterback
Rudolph had the misfortune of having a couple memorable things happen to him in games, neither of which were pretty. As if the Ravens knocking him out in a game wasn’t enough, the Cleveland debacle that saw him being hit in the head with a helmet used as a weapon provided indelible memories for many
He had a big arm at OKST and had a couple incredible seasons, but like any QB that gets drafted, it’s a coin toss whether it’ll translate into success
Rudolph always seemed to be a step slow in the pocket and lacked field awareness. He seemed to lock in on one receiver too many times
Funny thing is, that description might have garnered more playing time in a bygone era.