Mason Rudolph

Steelers Rumors: Pickett, Trubisky, Rudolph

One of the most common negatives attributed to Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett as a draft prospect was his hand size. While many considered the issue overblown and trivial, Alex Kozora of Steelers Depot relays that Pickett was told by multiple teams that his hand size would determine whether or not he was on their draft board.

This story is less about Pickett’s hand size and more about the fact that multiple teams threatened that he would be taken off their board altogether if his hands didn’t measure up. Specifically, Pickett says that he was told that he would be taken off some teams’ boards if his hands were not nine inches. Lo and behold, they measured up at eight and a half inches.

The teams that drafted a highly ranked quarterback not named Pickett were the Falcons, Titans, Panthers, and Commanders. It’s no guarantee that these were the teams that passed on Pickett solely because of his hand size, but they all did pass on Pickett in the first round. Where are they now?

Atlanta is attempting to move forward with their third-round pick from last year, Desmond Ridder. Ridder made four starts last year, winning two and losing two. He only averaged 177 passing yards per game while throwing two touchdowns in four games, but he had no interceptions. He’ll have to hold off former Washington starter Taylor Heinicke next year. Tennessee is still rolling with Ryan Tannehill, but the Titans drafted a quarterback in the second round this year in Will Levis who will now challenge last year’s third-round pick, Malik Willis, for the right to replace Tannehill eventually. Carolina traded for the No. 1 overall pick this year to draft a new starter in Bryce Young. Matt Coral, their third-round pick from last year, will be QB3 behind Young and Andy Dalton. Washington, like the Falcons, will try to start their fifth-round pick from last year, Sam Howell. Howell made one start last year, beating the Cowboys in the season finale while throwing for 169 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. They have veteran Jacoby Brissett as a strong backup plan.

Pickett took over as the Steelers’ starter in Week 4 of his rookie season and only missed one game after. He started 12 of 13 appearances throwing for 2,404 yards for seven touchdowns and nine interceptions. He added 237 yards and three scores on the ground. He won Pittsburgh’s season-long quarterback competition last year and is expected to be the continued starter in a very similar-looking position room this year with the most experience of any of last year’s rookie quarterbacks. Was it worth it to pass on Pickett because of his hand size? It may be too early to tell, but even the teams sitting in a better position now than they were before the 2022 draft look better despite their quarterback choice last year. As of right now, Pickett appears to have to most potential of the second-year quarterbacks, aside from maybe Brock Purdy.

Here are some other rumors surrounding the Steelers’ quarterbacks:

  • Neither Mason Rudolph nor Mitchell Trubisky were expected to return to the Steelers this offseason. Trubisky was pleasantly surprised after not expecting to be brought back but says it was an “easy decision” to return, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rudolph didn’t intend to return, feeling he was treated unfairly last season. He even asserts that he had offers from other teams this offseason. Ultimately, after rookie minicamps concluded, nothing materialized into a new deal and Rudolph wanted to be with a team by the start of organized team activities. He opted to remain in Pittsburgh as opposed to starting fresh somewhere new.
  • Dulac provided us with some new details on Trubisky’s new contract, as well. The $8MM that Trubisky was reported to be making this year is composed of the veteran minimum salary of $1.08MM and a signing bonus of $6.92MM. Dulac adds that “it was (Trubisky’s) relationship with Pickett – and the way he put aside the disappointment of being benched early in the season – that drove the Steelers to extend” the veteran quarterback.

Steelers Re-Sign QB Mason Rudolph

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 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.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Rudolph, Ravens

The Bengals will have some important financial decisions to make in the coming months. Quarterback Joe Burrow is eyeing a sizable pay day on his first NFL extension, but the organization will also have to make important decisions on wideout Tee Higgins and linebacker Logan Wilson.

Naturally, the front office is hoping they’ll be able to retain their entire core. Speaking to reporters the other day, Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn stated that the organization would like to re-sign all of their notable extension-eligible players, and she added that Burrow’s impending contract shouldn’t impact the status of players like Higgins or Wilson.

“They’re all great guys that we love having and want to have for a while on our team,” she said (via Kelsey Conway of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “So just a process that always plays out how it plays out however it plays out we’ll be looking at all of the options and alternatives and thinking about what we might be able to get done.”

Wilson, a 2020 third-round pick, has emerged as one of Cincy’s most reliable defenders. He’s started all 28 of his regular season appearances over the past two years, collecting 223 total tackles, 3.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. Considering the organization’s eventual investment in their offense, it makes sense that they’d want to retain one of their defensive leaders.

Meanwhile, many have wondered if the Bengals will be able to afford both Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, who is eligible for an extension next offseason. Blackburn noted that the front office has time on their side as they look to fit in extensions for their key players, but she also hinted that the team’s ability to re-sign the two wide receivers will be dependent on the players themselves.

“We’ll find out,” Blackburn responded when asked if the Bengals could afford both receivers. “You know it, there are so many things that come into play. So, we’ll just play it by ear as we go and do our best to see where we can get to.”

More notes out of the AFC North…

  • The Steelers have Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky atop their quarterbacks depth chart, but the front office could continue to add to the position. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the organization would like to add a developmental quarterback to the mix. As the writer notes, that QB would likely be added via the draft, although he notes that the organization could choose to bring back Mason Rudolph, who is still only 27.
  • The Ravens are currently armed with the 22nd pick in the draft, but it remains to be seen if they’ll end up making a selection at that point in the draft. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes that the Ravens are probably more likely to trade back than they are to make a selection at No. 22. The Ravens only have five picks in the upcoming draft, and while the front office may state publicly that they’re fine with the lack of selections, Zrebiec opines that they’ll be hunting for more picks. General manager Eric DeCosta previously hinted that the organization could be looking to make a trade in the first round. “We’ve got five picks. We wish we had more,” the GM said (via Zrebiec). “Our goal is probably to get more along the way if we can, depending on how things fall. But we see a great opportunity for us to add some quality players and be a better football team.”
  • There have been a few coaching changes in the division. James Urban, who was previously the Ravens’ quarterbacks coach, and Craig Ver Steeg, who was Baltimore’s running backs coach, have been reassigned to senior football analyst/game-planning roles, per Zrebiec. The team also switched Keith Williams from pass game specialist to assistant wide receivers coach. Meanwhile, the Steelers announced that they’ve hired Glenn Thomas to be an offensive assistant coach. Thomas brings more than 20 years of coaching experience in both college and the NFL.

Steelers Want To Retain Mitch Trubisky, Open To New Mason Rudolph Deal

The top of the Steelers’ quarterback depth chart is set heading into 2023, but the contract status of backup Mitch Trubisky and third-stringer Mason Rudolph leaves each of their futures in doubt. Both passers could find themselves in Pittsburgh for this coming season and beyond, however.

When the Steelers made Kenny Pickett the only first-round signal-caller of the 2022 draft class, it became clear that he would assume the starting role at some point. That time came in Week 4, when Trubusky was benched at halftime and left to fill in only when Pickett was injured later in the season. The former second overall pick had a 4:5 touchdown-to-interception in limited action during his debut Pittsburgh campaign. He still drew praise from owner Art Rooney II, however, which was echoed recently by general manager Omar Khan.

“Mitch has been great,” Khan said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “It’s been great to have him around, and I would look forward to having him around here for a long time. Not only this year but for a long time.”

Trubisky, 28, has one year remaining on the two-year pact he signed last offseason to restart his career. Before landing on Trubisky as their veteran addition to compete with a rookie (ultimately Pickett), though, the Steelers considered signing Jacoby Brissett, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The latter has a connection to offensive coordinator Matt Canada, dating back to their time together at NC State, and is poised to be a free agent after his one-year stint in Cleveland.

Trubisky’s 2023 cap hit of $10.625MM would make him a cumbersome backup from a financial perspective. The Steelers would save $8MM in cap space by cutting him, but Khan’s remarks point to an extension being the more likely avenue taken by the team. In addition, he made it clear (via The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly) that QB will not be a position of focus during the upcoming draft with Pickett in place and Trubisky on the books for at least one more year.

As for Rudolph, the expectation has long been that he will depart in free agency in search of a clearer path to playing time. The 27-year-old has been in Pittsburgh since being drafted there in 2018, but has played in just 17 games (including 10 starts) since that time. Khan said, however, that the door remains open to a new contract with the former third-rounder.

Pittsburgh has a number of priorities in free agency, but re-tooling their QB room does not appear to be one of them. A step forward from Pickett would go a long way to driving improvement from the team overall, but at least one familiar face behind him in the pecking order is likely to be in place in 2023.

AFC North Rumors: Lamar, Clowney, Rudolph

The PCL sprain heard around the world continues to dog Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson’s Ravens are headed to Cincinnati next week for a rematch against the division-winning Bengals. Yet the question remains: will Jackson be the one under center for Baltimore’s wild-card matchup?

Jackson suffered his knee injury in a Week 13 win over the Broncos. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the former MVP hasn’t practiced since. The initial prognosis saw him sitting out for one to three weeks. Five missed games later and panic is growing as the playoffs approach. To many in the media, it sounded after three weeks that the Ravens had such a simple road to the playoffs that they were simply resting Jackson for an eventual playoff run. But starting a quarterback that hasn’t seen the field in five weeks is far less than ideal.

Jackson has done everything that’s been asked of him in rehab sessions, but his knee reportedly still hasn’t quite felt right, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Rapoport asserts that PCL injuries take a bit longer than MCL injuries and that perhaps, due to Jackson’s explosive and agile nature of play, the standards for being back to 100% are different for Lamar than they would be for other quarterbacks.

Regardless, Jackson indicates that he’s confident he’ll be able to return in the playoffs, even if others involved in the recovery aren’t quite as sure. If Jackson isn’t available next week, a familiar refrain continues as Rapoport reports that the belief is that he will be able to go the following week, should Baltimore advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

Here are a couple of other rumors from around the AFC North concerning the two teams in the division who played their last football of the season against each other today:

  • Browns edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney made headlines when he announced he was “ninety-five percent sure” he wouldn’t return to Cleveland and was sent home by the team. Although a likely change in defensive coordinator could improve his views on returning, Clowney has likely burned those bridges with his reported behavior, according to Mary Kay Cabot of In the team’s October loss to Baltimore, Clowney reportedly told defensive line coach Chris Kiffin that he was hurting after the first series of the game and, as a result, Kiffin only sent Clowney in on third downs for the rest of the game. It was later revealed that Clowney told Kiffin he was hurt because he was upset that the Browns lined him up on the left side over Ravens star tackle Ronnie Stanley instead of the right side with Morgan Moses. If the anecdote is true, a moved like that, which could be viewed as manipulative or petty, would almost guarantee that Clowney’s future was determined in way back in October.
  • During a Q&A with fans this week, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hit on an intriguing note concerning Steelers third-string quarterback Mason Rudolph. A fan inquired about the chances of Rudolph accepting a deal to be the team’s backup in future seasons. Dulac’s response indicated that Rudolph likely doesn’t have “any interest in staying (in Pittsburgh) after the way he was demoted/treated.” This assertion is nothing new from Dulac who posited early in December that Rudolph and Mitchell Trubisky may both find themselves in new homes next year.

Steelers To Start Mitch Trubisky In Week 15

Kenny Pickett exited the Steelers’ loss to the Ravens last week with a concussion, and he has not recovered in time to play tomorrow. As a result, he has been ruled out, and Pittsburgh will once again turn to Mitch Trubisky as its starting quarterback, per a team announcement.

The veteran finished the Week 14 contest after Pickett suffered his second concussion this year. The team’s offense generated notable yardage with Trubisky at the helm, but three interceptions sealed their fate and represented the latest example of why Pickett was named the No. 1 in Week 5. Trubisky split first-team reps with third-stringer Mason Rudolph this week, inviting speculation that the latter could see his first action of the year; instead, he will dress as the backup. However, Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of say that Trubisky could be on a short leash and, if he should struggle, he may pulled in favor of Rudolph.

Trubisky joined the Steelers on a two-year deal this offseason, one in which the team needed to make both short- and long-term moves aimed at finding a Ben Roethlisberger successor. The 28-year-old has made six total appearances (including four starts) in 2022, putting up numbers essentially in line with his career averages with respect to completion percentage (63.3) and yards-per-attempt-average (6.8). He has thrown for 1,073 yards and, after last week’s contest, has more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four).

Despite being under contract for 2023, then, speculation has increased that the Steelers will move on from him in the coming offseason. A trade sending him elsewhere would, in a best-case scenario, likely represent another opportunity to compete for a starting role during training camp with a younger signal-caller. Rudolph, meanwhile, is a pending free agent, so the team’s actions with respect to Trubisky could substantially affect his standing with the organization.

Pittsburgh faces a long road to a playoff berth at 5-8, especially compared to their Week 15 opponent, the Panthers, despite Carolina boasting the same record. The Steelers have been underwhelming in almost every category on offense this season – a reflection of both of their signal-callers – but their commitment to a healthy Pickett both now and in the future could add significance for Trubisky on Sunday and for any further games in which he receives the nod.

Steelers Likely To Change Backup QBs This Offseason?

The Steelers have their quarterback of both the present and the future in first-round rookie Kenny Pickett, but their depth chart at the position could see plenty of turnover soon. Backup Mitch Trubisky and third-stringer Mason Rudolph are in a position to look elsewhere this offseason.

Detailing both veterans’ situations, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that it is “a safe bet to assume” Rudolph and Trubisky will not be back in 2023. The former is a pending free agent, so he will have the option of signing with a team which will give him at least a No. 2 role. That appeared unlikely to be available this year in Pittsburgh, given the addition of Trubisky in free agency and the subsequent decision to draft Pickett.

Those moves made Rudolph a logical trade candidate, but his experience and the relative uncertainty surrounding the other two signal-callers led the Steelers to keep him in the fold. The 27-year-old has made 10 career starts, but only two of those have come since 2019. That will no doubt lead to a modest free agent market, but with the prospect of starting in Pittsburgh no longer in play, a move elsewhere would come as little surprise. Dulac does add, however, that the Steelers would “probably” welcome the Oklahoma State product back if he were interested in re-signing.

Trubisky, meanwhile, has one year remaining on the $14MM deal he signed this offseason. That contract put him in line to operate as a starter after a one-year No. 2 stint with the Bills last season, but the addition of Pickett one month later – which, as Dulac mentions, the Steelers did not inform Trubisky of prior to doing so – led to immediate predictions that he would be a temporary starter at best. The former Bear was replaced by Pickett midway through Week 4, and the Steelers have committed to him as the starter moving forward.

Dulac therefore predicts a mutual parting of ways via a trade this offseason which will allow Trubisky, 28, to at least compete for a No. 1 gig with what would be his fourth career franchise. His 2023 cap hit of $10.6MM would make him an inexpensive bridge starter, or an experienced backup for any number of teams.

Pittsburgh will move forward with Pickett at the helm into 2023, but a departure from both Rudolph and Trubisky would leave the team in need of multiple additions. On that point, Dulac names Joshua Dobbs as a name to watch, as the 2017 Steelers fourth-rounder has bounced around to the Jaguars and Browns but has still yet to make an appearance for a team other than Pittsburgh. In any case, the team’s plans at the position will be worth monitoring when they turn their attention to rebounding from a disappointing 2022 campaign.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Pocic, Ravens

The Steelers are trending in the wrong direction to start the 2022 season, one which came with a number of questions on offense. After last week’s 38-3 loss to the Bills, though, no shake-up on the sidelines is expected.

When speaking to the media after the loss, head coach Mike Tomlin stated that he has been “highly involved” in the team’s offense, a unit led by Matt Canada. The latter has been the subject of plenty of scrutiny dating back to last season, his first as offensive coordinator. As Tomlin stressed, however, he will not make “changes for the sake of changes” with respect to the maligned play-caller (Twitter links via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor).

Through five weeks, Pittsburgh ranks 30th in the NFL in both yards (308.6) and points (15.4) per game. The underwhelming play of veteran signing Mitch Trubisky led to first-round rookie Kenny Pickett being installed as the starting quarterback, something which certainly didn’t produce the desired results in Week 5. He and the team face another tough matchup this Sunday against the Buccaneers.

Here are some other notes from around the AFC North:

  • Beside Tomlin, another high-profile coach who has had a hand in offensive game-planning has been Brian Flores. The former Dolphins head coach sat in on that unit’s meetings prior to the Steelers’ game against the Patriots, per SI’s Albert Breer. More generally, Breer notes, Flores has been operating as an “over-the-top assistant” with the offense, in addition to his primary responsibilities as LBs coach. The expanded role comes as the team “hopes” Flores is able to land another HC opportunity down the road.
  • As for the QB position, a deal could be coming soon. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic points out that, with Pickett having assumed No. 1 duties, it would make sense for Pittsburgh to move on from one of Trubisky or Mason Rudolph at the upcoming trade deadline (subscription required). The latter is a pending free agent and was the subject of trade talks this offseason, though the Steelers held on to him. Trubisky, meanwhile, is under contract for 2023 with a cap hit of $10.625MM.
  • The Browns have the league’s top rushing attack, something owing in no small part to the play of their offensive line. That includes center Ethan Pocic, who signed in Cleveland this offseason after five years in Seattle. When weighing the options presented by a modest free agent market, the 27-year-old chose to work with Browns o-line coach Bill Callahan. “As soon as I wasn’t going to get a big contract, a long-term contract, everything was pretty low, league minimum for the most part, I just went to the team with the best coaches and the best players,” he said, via Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. After the season-ending injury suffered by Nick Harris, Pocic assumed a starter’s role and currently ranks as PFF’s fourth-highest rated center.
  • The first few weeks of the season have offered a glimpse into a new element in the Ravens’ offense. The team has implemented more looks from under center for QB Lamar Jackson, as detailed by the Washington Posts’ Jason La Canfora. Jackson operated almost exclusively from the shotgun prior to entering the NFL; Baltimore deployed plenty of pistol formations during the first four years of his career. 2022, however, has seen a dramatic uptick in his under-center looks, especially in the passing game – part of OC Greg Roman‘s attempts to diversify the team’s run-heavy offense. Overall, that has so far translated to just 213 passing yards per contest (23rd in the league), so the degree to which the team remains committed to this new element will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses.

Latest On Steelers’ QB Competition

SEPTEMBER 6: The Steelers look to have issued a correction. A day after releasing a depth chart that placed Rudolph as their backup, the Steelers now have Pickett in that spot (Twitter link). Trubisky-Pickett-Rudolph was believed to be the quarterback hierarchy for Pittsburgh, which discussed Rudolph in trades before cutting their roster to 53 last week. This change, which puts the Pitt product in position to dress on gamedays, creates a clearer path for the long-expected Trubisky-to-Pickett bridge.

SEPTEMBER 5: After the final round of roster cuts had been made last week, the Steelers still had the same three quarterbacks at the top of the depth chart as they have since the draft. Their rankings in the pecking order were thought to be known, though nothing became official until today. 

Pittsburgh’s Week 1 depth chart lists Mitch Trubisky as the starter, as noted by ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. That was the expected decision throughout the offseason; the veteran signed a two-year, $14MM deal in free agency after one season as a backup in Buffalo. That, of course, was preceded by his four-year stint as the Bears’ starter which included a pair of playoff appearances but not enough production to warrant his draft status as a No. 2 pick or a new deal from Chicago.

Things became more complicated at the draft when the Steelers became the only team to use a first-round pick on a signal-caller, selecting Kenny Pickett 20th overall. Widely seen as the most NFL-ready prospect available, the move came as no surprise, and expectations have persisted that the Pitt alum will see action at some point. That became especially true when Trubisky struggled in training camp, though he — like Pickett and fourth-year returnee Mason Rudolph — acquitted himself relatively well during the preseason.

As was the case in June, Rudolph is listed as the backup ahead of Pickett. The veteran was thought to be a cut, or perhaps more likely, trade candidate in the past few weeks, but the team elected to keep him. Rudolph has put up underwhelming numbers in his 17 career appearances, leading to speculation about whether or not he would be active on gamedays.

As Mark Kaboly of The Athletic writes (subscription required), Trubisky (who was also elected a team captain) is likely to get a multi-game run with the first team to start the season. While he also “guarantees” that Pickett will see the field in 2022, he adds that Trubisky will receive a long leash before being replaced.

Head coach Mike Tomlin is expected to confirm the news tomorrow, but the Steelers appear set to move forward into a season once again featuring playoff expectations without a surprise at the game’s most important position.

Steelers Expected To Retain Mason Rudolph

Although trade rumors have followed Mason Rudolph for a few days now, the Steelers are not planning to deal their longest-tenured quarterback.

Rather than move Rudolph for a draft pick, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac notes the team’s intention is to hang onto him (Twitter link). One season, on a $3MM base salary, remains on the extension Rudolph signed in April 2021. A couple of teams have made inquiries, per The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly, but they have not swayed the Steelers.

Trades around this time often involve players teams plan to cut ahead of the deadline to move rosters to 53. Rudolph falls outside of that category, which does not impose a deadline for the Steelers. Rudolph has remained on Pittsburgh’s roster for five years now, and it is clear no satisfactory offer has come in.

This season has the clear look of a bridge situation, not unlike the Tommy Maddox-to-Ben Roethlisberger one that formed in 2004 (a Maddox injury summoned Roethlisberger in Week 2 of that season; the rookie kept the job for 18 years). At some point, Mitchell Trubisky will give way to Kenny Pickett. Mike Tomlin also has not named Trubisky his Week 1 starter yet, though Kaboly expects that to happen. That has long been the expectation, but Pickett impressed in preseason game action. Tomlin said Monday he “might” have already made his Week 1 QB decision.

Rudolph, 27, is not expected to be in contention to start for Pittsburgh. The team has Trubisky signed to a two-year deal but could escape the contract with a minimal dead-money hit in 2023. Trubisky’s incentive package begins to pay out if he plays 60% of the Steelers’ offensive snaps this season. It would be a slight surprise if, barring a Pickett injury, that happened this season. Pickett taking over could reopen the door to another Rudolph extension for 2023, as the Pitt product’s backup, but for now, Rudolph lingers — in 2021 Nick Foles fashion — as a veteran third-stringer.