Mason Rudolph

Steelers Unlikely To Acquire Veteran QB

Longtime Steelers GM Kevin Colbert will soon be stepping down, but not until after the 2022 draft. So he will be tasked with setting the team’s course at quarterback in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era, and his modus operandi would suggest that a major splash is not in the cards.

Indeed, Ian Rapoport of hears from sources close to Colbert that Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins will be retained and will be given the chance to compete for the starting quarterback job. Rudolph is under contract through 2022, and while Haskins is eligible for restricted free agency, he has apparently made a favorable impression on head coach Mike Tomlin and can likely be brought back with a minimal commitment.

Beyond those two, acquiring a player like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or any other veteran QB who might be available on the trade market should not be expected. In his 22 years atop the Steelers’ personnel department, Colbert has only traded a first-round pick for a player one time, when he acquired Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins in September 2019.

Instead, adding a collegiate passer in the first round of the draft and allowing him to compete with Rudolph and Haskins is likely to be how Colbert elects to move forward. Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett has been mocked to the Steelers by a number of outlets, and the fact that the pro team shares a facility with the university makes it easier for Colbert & Co. to evaluate the Heisman candidate.

Rapoport says Pittsburgh is interested in Pickett, but with his stock seemingly on the rise, and with the Steelers not picking any higher than No. 19 depending on how far they advance in the playoffs, they might not have a shot at the local kid absent a trade-up. And Colbert has only traded up in the first round three times in his tenure.

Evaluating Steelers’ 2022 In-House QB Options

After 18 years in the National Football League, it’s sounding more and more likely that the 2021-22 season will be Ben Roethlisberger‘s last. Over the last few years, Pittsburgh has taken stabs at potential replacements for Roethlisberger, usually utilizing late-round draft picks in hopes of molding a young prospect into a starter. But Roethlisberger potentially putting an end to his career when the season concludes places a lot more pressure on the Steelers to come up with a solution.

The easiest solution is to use the materials you already have. Pittsburgh currently has two quarterbacks on the active roster behind Big Ben and one on the injured reserve. Former first round pick Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, currently on IR, both have contracts that expire at the end of the season, but it’s easier to have contract discussions with players already in the building than not.

Mason Rudolph is the team’s current primary backup. Rudolph beat out Dobbs for the second quarterback job and took over as the team’s starter in 2019 when Roethlisberger was ruled out for the season after an elbow surgery. Rudolph went 5-3 as the Steelers’ starter before getting benched for Devlin Hodges after struggling against a winless Bengals team. He completed 62% of his passes for 1,765 yards and threw 13 touchdowns to 9 interceptions on the year. Before the 2021 season, Rudolph signed a one-year extension, pushing his free agency back until after the 2022 season. Rudolph has appeared in one game this year, filling in as Roethlisberger was held out with COVID-19. In a game that resulted in a tie with the winless Lions, Rudolph completed 30 out of 50 pass attempts for 242 yards, throwing 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

Haskins was taken in the 2019 NFL Draft with the 15th overall pick by the Washington Football Team. He saw some game time for Washington in two games in the first 8 weeks of his rookie year, but earned his first start in Week 9 after the season’s original starter, Case Keenum, could not play with a concussion. Haskins took over the offense for every game but one for the rest of the season as he missed Week 17 with an ankle injury. Haskins retained the starting job to begin the 2020 season, but was benched in a Week 5 game against the Rams. He returned to the field when new starter Alex Smith left the game in Week 14 with an injury. Haskins started the next two games before being benched once again, this time for Taylor Heinicke. Haskins was released the next day due to some controversies with breaking COVID-19 protocols and not meeting the team’s standards off the field. In two years of play, Haskins completed 60% of his passes for 2,804 yards, throwing 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.

There are plenty of different directions Pittsburgh could go to replace Roethlisberger should this be his final season. While they haven’t quite proven to be world-beaters, Rudolph and Haskins do provide the Steelers with workable options that are already in the building. If the Steelers decide that they don’t think they can win a Super Bowl with the talent currently in their QB room, they’ll be sure to explore some options via free agency, trade, and the 2022 NFL Draft.

If the likes of Pitt’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss’s Matt Corral, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, or Liberty’s Malik Willis don’t pique the Steelers’ interest, Pittsburgh may look into a short-term free agent rental as they have in the past with quarterbacks Michael Vick and Bruce Gradkowski. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Teddy Bridgewater are some of the bigger names set to hit the market this offseason that could delay the Steelers’ need to draft a quarterback until some more attractive prospects potentially surface in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Pittsburgh could also trade, as they did for Dobbs, with a number of quarterbacks rumored to be available for a price. Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson is obviously the most available option, due to a league investigation that could result in disciplinary action. 49ers’ quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been rumored to be available due to the expected emergence of 2021’s No. 3 overall draft pick, Trey Lance. Garoppolo is not known to be flashy, but has still accomplished a 30-13 record as a starter in the NFL. Two other veterans that have shown a little frustration with their current squads and may be open to a trade are Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

While Steelers’ management is certainly preoccupied right now with making the playoffs in a wild AFC, they will have much to consider when the season comes to an end. Whoever ends up under center for the Steelers in Week 1 of the 2022-23 NFL season, it will certainly be a change of pace for the franchise if the jersey doesn’t have fourteen letters across the top.

Steelers Activate QB Ben Roethlisberger

Some good news for the Steelers’ offense as the team prepares for tomorrow night’s game against the Chargers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list and is “is on track to play Sunday night.” The news was first reported by Steelers PR man Burt Lauten (on Twitter).

The Steelers have made the move to activate their 18th-year passer, indeed putting Big Ben in line to play Sunday night in Los Angeles. The Steelers also promoted safety Karl Joseph, who stands to help a team missing Minkah Fitzpatrick, who remains on the COVID list. Kevin Dotson is now on IR as well. Dotson, who moved into Pittsburgh’s starting lineup after mixing in as a rookie, is dealing with a high ankle sprain.

Big Ben landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list last weekend, forcing him to miss Sunday’s game against the Lions. The 39-year-old passer had self-reported COVID symptoms to the team and subsequently tested positive for the virus. Roethlisberger has reportedly passed the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, and while he’s not traveling with the team to California, he is on a separate flight and intending to play on Sunday.

The Steelers offense predictably struggled last weekend against the lowly Lions. While backup QB Mason Rudolph did pass for 242 yards, he only completed 30 of his 50 passing attempts, and that came with an extra period of play before the eventual tie. Rudolph also tossed a touchdown and an interception.

Prior to last weekend, the Steelers had won four in a row to bring themselves squarely into the AFC playoff picture. During that streak, Roethlisberger — whose early-season struggles prompted speculation about his job security — was over 200 passing yards per game, had thrown six TDs, zero interceptions, and posted a 104.6 QB rating (h/t Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network on Twitter).

Steelers Place QB Ben Roethlisberger On Reserve/COVID-19 List

On Saturday evening, the Steelers announced that they were placing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the reserve/COVID-19 list. As a result, Roethlisberger will miss the club’s game against the Lions this afternoon.

According to Ian Rapoport of, the 39-year-old passer self-reported COVID symptoms to the team and subsequently tested positive for the virus (Twitter link). As Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets, Roethlisberger is vaccinated, so he is eligible to be removed from the COVID list as soon as he returns two negative tests taken 24 hours apart. That gives him a good chance to suit up for what could be a critical bout with the Chargers next Sunday.

For today, QB2 Mason Rudolph will get the nod in Roethlisberger’s place (Twitter link via Rapoport). Rudolph, a 2018 third-rounder, has not played a significant snap since Week 16 of the 2019 season — he started a meaningless Week 17 game last year — and he boasts a 5-4 career record as a starter, a record that is accompanied by a subpar 82.7 career quarterback rating.

However, if the Steelers could pick a game for Roethlisberger to miss this year, today’s matchup would probably be the one they would pick. The 0-8 Detroit outfit is ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of yards allowed per game, and next-to-last in terms of points allowed per game. Plus, Rudolph does get regular opportunities to run the first-team offense in practice, so Pittsburgh should not need to limit its playbook in any way.

The Steelers have won four in a row to bring themselves squarely into the AFC playoff picture. During that streak, Roethlisberger — whose early-season struggles prompted speculation about his job security — is averaging over 200 passing yards per game, has thrown six TDs, zero interceptions, and has posted a 104.6 QB rating (h/t Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network on Twitter).

Mason Rudolph Wants To Start For Steelers in 2022

The Steelers have an uncertain future under center beyond this season. Ben Roethlisberger was almost pushed out after 2020, before a restructure was worked out to bring him back for one more year.

The team hasn’t anointed a clear heir apparent, but Mason Rudolph is making it clear he wants it to be him. “That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league, and for my team,” Rudolph said Tuesday, via Brooke Pryor of (Twitter link).

Rudolph hasn’t exactly looked like a franchise quarterback during his pro starts to date, but he does have the advantage of being the only Pittsburgh signal-caller under contract for 2022 at the moment. The Steelers recently gave him a one-year extension through 2022 worth $5MM with a $2MM signing bonus.

That’s not insignificant money, so Rudolph could have a real shot at succeeding Roethlisberger. Most likely, the team just wanted to make sure they had a somewhat competent insurance option.

Rudolph received eight starts in 2019 due to Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury, but was ineffective and benched a couple of times in favor of UDFA Devlin Hodges.

He was better in his lone 2020 start in Week 17 when the Steelers rested starters against the Browns, but still isn’t the most inspiring option as a full-time starter. He’ll turn 26 next month. The Steelers also have Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs on the roster for 2020.

Contract Notes: Bucs, Rodgers, Rudolph, Pats

We’ve got a handful of interesting notes on contracts to pass along, including for several quarterbacks:

  • The Buccaneers’ quarterbacks room is a bit crowded now with Kyle Trask getting drafted in the second-round. One of Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin will be the odd man out, since Bruce Arians won’t be keeping four signal-callers. “Their new contracts tell you who’s ahead” in the competition to hold Tom Brady‘s clipboard in 2021, Greg Auman of The Athletic tweets. Auman reports that Gabbert got $1.5MM in guaranteed money, $750K in base salary and a $750K signing bonus. On the other hand, Griffin only got a $75K signing bonus guaranteed. Gabbert has always been Bruce Arians’ guy, while Tampa’s front office has loved Griffin enough to keep him around since 2015. If these financial figures tell us anything, and they usually do, it’s that Gabbert will be back for the title defense while Griffin won’t be.
  • The language of Aaron Rodgers‘ contract is going to get a lot of attention if his current beef with the Packers turns into a real holdout. Rodgers earned a $6.8MM roster bonus on the third day of the league year, but he hasn’t actually received that money yet since it’s to be “paid concurrently with his 2021 base salary,” former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry tweets. Corry notes that Green Bay has “the right to take fines & any recapture of signing bonus due to a training camp holdout from this money.” There was talk of Rodgers having to pay back that $6.8MM, but it turns out he hasn’t even gotten it yet. The Packers can start chipping away at that the moment he doesn’t show up for mandatory practices.
  • One last quarterback note. Mason Rudolph recently got a one-year contract extension from the Steelers to keep him under team control through 2022, and it turns out the team gave him some real money. Rudolph’s new pact with Pittsburgh is worth $5MM for the 2022 season, which included a $2MM signing bonus, Mark Kaboly of The Athletic tweets. As Kaboly points out, Rudolph is the only passer the team has under contract for 2022. Rudolph hasn’t exactly looked like a franchise quarterback in his nine career starts, but with Ben Roethlisberger‘s status more than uncertain beyond this year, it makes since why the Steelers would want to make sure they have someone at least somewhat competent under center just in case.
  • When Trent Brown got traded from the Raiders back to the Patriots, he reworked his contract from having two years and $29.5MM left to a one-year pact for $11MM. Turns out that new one-year deal has some interesting details. The massive offensive tackle’s contract has a series of weight-based incentives, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes. The 6’8 behemoth will have earned $150K if he weighed “385 pounds or less on the first day of the offseason program (April 19).” Brown will have an opportunity to earn another $150K if he clocks in at or below 375 pounds on June 1, and another $200K for 365 pounds on July 15. That’s a total of a half million bucks in weight-based incentives. Brown was with the Patriots for one season back in 2018, and won Super Bowl LIII with the team.

Steelers To Extend Mason Rudolph

We heard earlier today that things were close, and now it’s official. The Steelers and quarterback Mason Rudolph have agreed to terms on an extension, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette tweets.

It’s a one-year extension that will keep Rudolph under contract through 2022. He had been previously set to enter the final year of his rookie deal. A third-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 2018, Rudolph has received plenty of chances to show he can be the guy who takes over for Ben Roethlisberger one day.

He got eight starts in 2019 due to Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury, but was ineffective and benched a couple of times in favor of UDFA Devlin Hodges. He was better in his lone 2020 start in Week 17 when the Steelers rested starters against the Browns, but still hasn’t done much to indicate he can be a franchise quarterback.

Roethlisberger seemed on the verge of being shown the door earlier this offseason, and his future beyond 2021 is up in the air to say the least. Pittsburgh also recently signed Dwayne Haskins as a developmental option. The Steelers likely aren’t planning on Rudolph taking over under center long-term, but this move locks in a quarterback for beyond next season that is at least somewhat competent.

Steelers, Mason Rudolph Close On Extension

Mason Rudolph is entering the final season of his rookie contract, but the Steelers are discussing a deal that would keep their backup quarterback signed beyond 2021.

The sides are close on a one-year extension, Ian Rapoport of tweets. While the Steelers signed Dwayne Haskins earlier this year, Rudolph still profiles as Ben Roethlisberger‘s most likely backup. He has operated as such since 2018.

[RELATED: “Doubtful” Steelers Will Trade Up From No. 24]

Pittsburgh has seemingly needed a true Big Ben heir apparent for a while, but the team is not viewed as likely to trade up for one of this year’s top five quarterback prospects. Rudolph being extended through 2022 would point the Steelers to standing pat at the position in this weekend’s draft.

The former third-round pick received an extensive audition in 2019, when Roethlisberger’s Week 2 elbow injury ended his season. Rudolph did not fare well, being benched at points for UDFA Devlin Hodges, who is no longer with the team. But the Steelers have stood by the former Oklahoma State standout and certainly appear interested in seeing if he could become a legitimate Roethlisberger successor.

Steelers GM Fine With Backup QB Situation

The Steelers did not draft a quarterback and have not signed a veteran this offseason, and GM Kevin Colbert elaborated on why recently.

Not only did the Steelers’ 21st-year GM confirm the team did not make an offer to Jameis Winston, he said the Steelers intend to go forward with the backups they used last season. Pittsburgh has former third-round pick Mason Rudolph and ex-UDFA Devlin Hodges under contract. Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch is as well, though he did not play last season.

We’re comfortable with Mason Rudolph as a backup and Devlin Hodges in the mix. Between the two of them, they were 8-6 last year,” Colbert said during an appearance on the #PFTPM podcast (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). “You get into a backup quarterback situation, 8-6 is not 14-0 but there’s some comfort in knowing that they can get you through the hopefully nonexistent spell that may occur if your quarterback gets injured.”

The Steelers make sense for a veteran, with Ben Roethlisberger coming off elbow surgery in advance of his age-38 season. His two backups oversaw a last-place offensive DVOA season. The Steelers ranked sixth in offensive DVOA in 2018, when Big Ben started 16 games, but plummeted to last in 2019 after his Week 2 injury. The Steelers’ improved defense (third in DVOA) played a significant part in the team’s eight wins. Rudolph and Hodges tied for last place in Next Gen Stats’ average completed air yards metric, with each at 4.5 per completion.

Cam Newton is now believed to be open to being a backup in the right situation. Though, Newton has dealt with more injury trouble than Roethlisberger has in recent years. Joe Flacco is now shelved until perhaps September. Other veterans available include Blake Bortles, Geno Smith, Trevor Siemian, Mike Glennon and Drew Stanton.

Colbert attributed part of his team’s lack of interest in veterans to its salary cap situation. The Steelers hold $5.7MM in cap space and have yet to sign any of their draft picks. Although Pittsburgh frequently restructures contracts to create cap room, the team is not planning to change up its Roethlisberger-Rudolph-Hodges QB room for the time being.

Lot of times when we get into salary cap management and you have significant dollars in your starter, it’s hard to put a lot of dollars in your backup,” Colbert said. “We’re very comfortable knowing if need be Mason and Devlin and/or Devlin and Mason and even Paxton Lynch, who’s got No. 1 talent. We’ll see what we got, but we’re comfortable with that right now.”

Steelers’ Tomlin On Big Ben, AB

In an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, head coach Mike Tomlin touched on some of the biggest storylines surrounding the Steelers this offseason. A quick rundown of the highlights:

  • Despite missing the bulk of the 2019 season with detached tendons in his arm, Ben Roethlisberger has vowed to come back stronger than ever in 2019. In the interview, Tomlin expressed unwavering confidence in Big Ben’s road to recovery. “I have no hesitation,” Tomlin said when asked about Roethlisberger’s availability for the 2020 season (Twitter link via’s Field Yates). Recently, Steelers GM Kevin Colbert echoed those sentiments. The Steelers will not be among the many clubs engaged in this year’s QB carousel, though it stands to reason that they’ll consider quality backups and prospects who can be groomed for the future.
  • Antonio Brown is seeking to restore his reputation and return to the NFL, but he won’t be getting a second chance with the Steelers. “We have no current business interest at this time,” Tomlin said (Twitter link via’s Brooke Pryor). No surprise here – even before Brown’s personal life went into a tailspin, the wide receiver spent his final Steelers seasons at odds with Tomlin, Big Ben, and other key figures within the organization. It’s hard to see a path for Brown to get back to football, but he says that he’ll be in attendance at the combine later this month in hopes of talking with NFL teams.
  • After his reinstatement, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett stood by his claim that Steelers QB Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur to ignite the infamous brawl. Rudolph has rejected those claims and Tomlin stands with him. “I think his reputation needs to be defended and defended aggressively,” Tomlin said (Twitter link via Pryor).