Mitchell Trubisky

AFC North Rumors: Trubisky, Apple, Pratt, Johnson

With Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Deshaun Watson (tentatively) being cemented behind center in Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, respectively, Pittsburgh is working to name their starting quarterback to open the 2022 NFL season. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the current situation points towards free agent acquisition Mitchell Trubisky being named the starter for the Steelers’ season opener in Cincinnati.

On 105.7 The Fan, Dulac was quoted saying, “I think the plan is, and I don’t think there is any question about this, unless something would dictate otherwise including injury, I think Mitch Trubisky will go into the regular season as the starter.” He continued, “NFL teams don’t draft quarterbacks No. 1 to have them be the third quarterback and a gameday scratch. I expect Kenny Pickett to be the guy who dresses on gameday (as the primary backup).”

When asked where that leaves five-year veteran Mason Rudolph, Dulac thinks the Steelers will have “a little bit more respect than to keep him around as the third quarterback and a gameday scratch.” Dulac believes Pittsburgh would rather have the two parties mutually move on and try to find him a trade to a desirable location.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC North, starting with a couple rumors from the division (and conference) champions from last year:

  • When detailing some training camp position battles in Cincinnati this summer, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic asserted that six-year veteran cornerback Eli Apple will be favored to keep his starting job over rookie second-round pick Cam Taylor-Britt. After the rollercoaster start of his career, Apple played well last year for the Bengals. Despite the team spending heavy draft-capital on his position by drafting Taylor-Britt early, Apple has reportedly responded very well to the pressure and kept his eye on the ball. Taylor-Britt may eventually unseat the incumbent, but, for now, expect to see Apple across from Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool to open the season this September.
  • Expanding further on the Bengals’ offseason to-do list, Dehner Jr. reported on some possible extension candidates in Cincinnati, claiming that, for now, the Bengals don’t view linebacker Germaine Pratt as an extension candidate. Since Cincinnati selected him in the third-round of 2019, Pratt has been a formidable defender, racking up 76 tackles as a rookie as well as 89 and 91 tackles in the two seasons since. Despite his defensive tenacity, it doesn’t appear that Pratt does quite enough to force an early decision from the Bengals on his future. Instead, Pratt will want to put together a contract year that will either convince Cincinnati to keep him around or convince another franchise to spend big to bring him in. The Bengals will allow him to play out the last year of his rookie deal and assess his value before free agency.
  • Despite the recent one-year deal running back D’Ernest Johnson signed earlier this month to remain in Cleveland, ESPN’s Jake Trotter believes that Johnson could still potentially find himself as the odd man out of a loaded running back room for the Browns. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt cemented as 1-2 at running back, Johnson is competing with 2021 draft pick Demetric Felton and 2022 Draft pick Jerome Ford for playing time behind them. Since both Felton and Ford offer versatility to rush and receive out of the backfield, along with cheap rookie deals, it’s not out of the question to imagine Johnson on the outside looking in. In this case, the Browns may want to find a trade-partner to take Johnson and make sure they don’t completely waste the deal they awarded him weeks ago.

Latest On Steelers’ QB Competition

As Pittsburgh rolls into the post-Roethlisberger era, they are in the less than common situation of having four drafted quarterbacks on the roster. Mind you, the Steelers did not originally draft Mitchell Trubisky, but the point is that while most teams’ third- and/or fourth-string quarterbacks tend to be undrafted long-shots, every quarterback on Pittsburgh’s roster had draft capital invested in them. Mark Kaboly of The Athletic gave a breakdown this weekend of where each of these quarterbacks has slotted through spring practices. 

Pittsburgh acquired Trubisky in free agency this offseason after also considering then-free agents Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston. Despite the hole left behind center, the Steelers never seemed to consider trade options such as Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo and made it known early that they were not going to acquire Deshaun Watson. Trubisky signed a reasonable two-year deal to compete for the starting job in Pittsburgh after spending last season as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo.

Trubisky saw all of his work this spring come with the first-team offense, throwing almost solely to Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth. Not only did he only work with the first-team, he was the only quarterback to work with the first-team receivers and offensive line combination. Trubisky appears to be a good fit with offensive coordinator Matt Canada‘s motion-heavy offense. Regardless of whether or not this is a clear indication of who will start Week 1, Trubisky is in the mindset that he will win the job saying, “I’m preparing to be a starter. I feel like, no matter what position you’re in, that’s the way you should prepare.”

The quarterback taking snaps with the second-team is not who most would assume. Third-year Steeler Mason Rudolph is currently the second-string quarterback. The former third-round draft pick has started 10 games over his career (eight in his rookie season) with limited success. Despite the potential for him to settle in as someone who had their chance and watched it pass by, Rudolph reportedly “looked the best of the four quarterbacks” this spring. Rudolph is a meticulous worker and preparer and threw the most consistent ball with the biggest body in the group. While many considered him to be nothing more than a camp body, Rudolph put himself in the quarterback conversation, even if it will require some failures from Trubisky and Pickett to get him to the top of the depth chart. “This is the best opportunity I’ve had in four years,” Rudolph told Kaboly. “I am excited, and I look forward to competing.”

Working as the third-string quarterback this spring has been rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett. Head coach Mike Tomlin and Canada both offered that their current snap distribution is based solely on seniority, with Pickett falling behind Trubisky and Rudolph despite the possibility that he may be the most talented of the bunch. The idea is for Pickett to take the time this spring “to learn how to be a pro,” getting comfortable with the scheme and playbook now so that he can focus on competing for his depth chart spot in the summer. Luckily for Pickett, he has a bit of a leg up in terms of the language of the playbook with some familiarity from the time Canada recruited Pickett to Pitt. Pickett didn’t have too many snaps fewer than Trubisky or Rudolph, but his third-string status had him throwing to a very different receiver group. Pickett said he was “trying to be the best pro (he) can be,” calling this spring “100 percent successful.”

Lastly on the roster is rookie seventh-round draft pick Chris Oladokun. Oladokun transferred from South Florida to Samford to South Dakota State throughout his college career, spending that whole time outside of consistent Power 5 football. According to Kaboly, it showed, as Oladokun “looked like a guy who didn’t get many reps and came from a small college.” Oladokun is a project and his dearth of playing time reflected that, with Oladokun pointing out the importance of staying “locked in” mentally. The benefit of Oladokun’s lowly roster status is that he gets plenty of exclusive time working with David Corley, the assistant to quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan. Whether or not Oladokun ever competes for starting snaps in Pittsburgh, his dedicated time with Corley will foster benefits throughout the future of his career.

For now, the spring depth chart reflects the level of experience, just as Tomlin and Canada have intended. Based on the amount of time Trubisky has had with the first-team, it’s hard to imagine anyone else starting behind center in Week 1 at Cincinnati. Though, with Rudolph coming into his own and the talented rookie, Pickett, hot on their heels, it’s anyone’s guess who the Bengals will face in their season opener.

Latest On Steelers’ QB Situation

As one of the teams without a surefire Week 1 starter at the quarterback position, the Steelers are, naturally, receiving attention with respect to their competition at that spot. That makes the question of which signal-caller would receive first-team reps an important one as OTAs get underway. 

[RELATED: Poll: Which Rookie QB Makes Most Starts?]

As detailed by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, the answer to that question is Mitch Trubisky. That comes as little surprise, given the multi-year deal he signed in free agency, as the team began its multi-pronged search for Ben Roethlisberger’s successor. The former No. 2 pick has the potential to be a starter once again, after attempting just eight passes as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo last year.

The news that Trubisky is in pole position for the No. 1 job, albeit early on in the offseason, comes after a report Breer made earlier this month that first-rounder Kenny Pickett would have the opportunity to become the starter right away. The Heisman finalist was the only QB taken on Day 1, universally seen as the most NFL-ready prospect in a generally underwhelming class. That may make him the favorite to see the most playing time amongst rookies this year, but Pittsburgh’s situation at the position could remain unsettled into the fall.

Meanwhile, Mark Kaboly of the Athletic adds that incumbent Mason Rudolph “feels he has a legitimate chance” of beating out the two arrivals for the starting role. The 2018 third-rounder has 10 starts to his name, although only two of them have come since 2019. He is still most likely destined to remain a backup or No. 3 on the depth chart, but with uncertainties surrounding his other competitors, the door is still open for him to win the job this summer.

Like in Seattle, the identities of the contenders for the top QB spot are known, but the order in which they will appear on the depth chart remains up in the air to a greater extent than arguably anywhere else. Without the addition of Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield looming, of course, the forthcoming competition in the Steel City will be strictly internal, but intriguing nevertheless.

Contract Details: Jarrett, Akins, Green, Verrett, Smith, Trubisky

Here are some details on deals recently reached around the NFL:

  • Grady Jarrett, DT (Falcons): Three-year, $50.47MM. The contract, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, includes a guaranteed amount of $34.47MM consisting of a $16.5MM signing bonus and the full amounts of the 2022 and 2023 base salaries worth $1.47MM and $16.5MM, respectively. The deal includes roster bonuses of $1MM each due on the fifth day of the 2024 league year and the 2025 league year. Jarrett’s base salary for the 2024 and 2025 seasons will see an increase of $500,000 each if he makes the Pro Bowl in the 2023 or 2024 seasons, respectively.
  • Jordan Akins, TE (Giants): One-year, $1.09MM. The deal, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, is composed of a base salary of $1.04MM with a signing bonus $50,000. Under the veteran salary benefit, Akins will only have a salary cap hit of $945,000.
  • Rasheem Green, DE (Texans): One-year, $3.25MM. The contract, according to Wilson, includes a guaranteed amount of $1MM consisting of a $500,000 signing bonus and $500,000 of the base salary worth $1.5MM total. Green will receive a $500,000 workout bonus and a per game active bonus of $44,177 for a potential season total of $750,000.
  • Jason Verrett, CB (49ers): One-year, $1.04MM. Verrett’s deal has an injury waiver which leaves none of the money guaranteed for the 30-year old who has spent his fair share of time on the injured reserve during his career. Under the veteran salary benefit, Verrett will only have a salary cap hit of $895,000.
  • Geno Smith, QB (Seahawks): Refiled one-year, $3.5MM. Original details posted here. The deal, according to Wilson, has a signing bonus of $500,000 and a base salary of $1.26MM. The contract lists a roster bonus of $1.69MM and a workout bonus of $50,000. Additionally there is a Week 1 roster bonus of $585,000 due to Smith on September 15. Smith will receive a per game bonus of $30,000 whether active or inactive with that bonus increasing to $65,000 if Smith is active for a low season total of $510,000 and a potential season total of $1.12MM if Smith spends the entire season on the active roster. We mentioned Smith’s $3.5MM worth of potential incentives in the first post, but Wilson details that those incentives will be based on playtime, playoffs, passing yards, and whether or not Smith is voted to the Pro Bowl.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Incentive details for two-year, $14.29MM contract. Original details posted here. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the incentives are as follows: in 2022, Trubisky is due $1MM if he hits 60% of the team’s playtime, $1.5MM if he hits 70%, $2MM if he hits 80%, $2.5MM if he hits 70% and the Steelers make the playoffs, and $4MM if he hits 80% and the team makes the playoffs. He’ll earn an additional $250,000 if he makes the Pro Bowl. If Trubisky hits the 60% mark of playtime in 2022, he’ll earn a roster bonus in March of 2023 worth $1MM. That roster bonus elevates to $4MM if he triggers the 70% bonus from 2022. The same playtime, playoff, and Pro Bowl incentives will be in place for the 2023 season, as well, just without the following year roster bonus.

Open Competition For Steelers’ Starting QB Role?

While some were surprised that only one quarterback heard his name called on the first day of last week’s draft, no one was caught off guard by the fact that Pittsburgh was the lone team to add a signal-caller. After the draft was over, it was confirmed that Kenny Pickett will have a chance to win the No. 1 role right away. 

[RELATED: Steelers Select Pickett At No. 20]

As detailed by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, head coach Mike Tomlin was “pretty clear” in his post-draft media availability that Pickett “will be given the chance to unseat Mitch Trubisky as [the] starter”. Once the latter had been signed, it was expected he would operate as a stop-gap while the team searched for a long-term Ben Roethlisberger replacement. Given the structure of his two-year deal, Trubisky’s cap hit for 2022 is only $3.66MM, while it jumps to over $10.6MM the following year.

While that pointed to the ex-Bears first-rounder being the favorite for the starting role, the team made it clear in the build-up to the draft that they would add competition at the position. On that point, Breer adds that Tomlin named Pickett’s status as the most NFL-ready of this year’s prospects as “a big reason the Steelers took him” with their top pick. Another, undoubtedly, was the familiarity the team has with the Pitt product, who had a record-breaking final season in college en route to being a Heisman finalist.

Much of the team’s evaluation of both Trubisky and Pickett, of course, will depend on their performances during the offseason. With most other starting QB spots already decided, though, the internal competition between the two will be one to watch in the run-up to the 2022 campaign.

Contract Details: Howard, Trubisky, Key, Jones

Here are some details on deals recently reached around the NFL:

  • Xavien Howard, CB (Dolphins): Five-year, $90MM. The contract, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports, has a guaranteed amount of $36.3MM consisting of a $17.12MM signing bonus and the next two seasons of base salary worth just $1.04MM in 2022 and jumping to $18.15MM in 2023. On the third league day of the 2024 season, $4MM of the 2024 base salary (worth $15.4MM) becomes guaranteed. Howard will receive roster bonuses of $3MM on the second league day of each of the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons. He also will receive an additional $1MM for each Pro Bowl and 1st-Team All-Pro selection and $100,000 per year as a workout bonus. Howard had three years remaining on his deal before signing his extension. It’s extremely rare for a team to draw up a new deal with that much time remaining, but Miami’s willingness to keep Howard happy is a testament to how important he is to the franchise.
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year, $14.29MM. The contract, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, has a signing bonus of $5.25MM set to apply evenly over both years of the deal. Trubisky’s base salary in 2022 is only $1.04MM and jumps up to $8MM in 2023. The deal holds a potential $8.5MM in incentives. $4MM of play-time incentives each year should be easily reached if Trubisky wins the starting job and stays healthy. The remaining $500,000 would be earned in $250,000 increments if Trubisky makes the Pro Bowl in either year.
  • Arden Key, DE (Jaguars): One-year, $4MM. The contract, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, has a guaranteed amount of $3MM consisting of the signing bonus and base salary, each worth $1.5MM. The remaining $1MM comes in the form of a $500,000 roster bonus and a $500,000 workout bonus. Key will receive a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000. Wilson also reports that Key can earn up to $3MM of additional money in sack and Pro Bowl incentives.
  • Ronald Jones, RB (Chiefs): One-year, $1.5MM. The contract, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic, consists of a $250,000 signing bonus and a $1.25MM base salary. The deal was originally reported as “up to $5MM”, but Auman clarifies that any money past the listed $1.5MM would consist of incentives.

Steelers To Sign Mitch Trubisky

As expected, the Steelers have dipped into the free agent pool to address the quarterback position. According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, the team has reached an agreement with Mitch Trubisky on a two-year deal (Twitter link). 

Trubisky’s contract comes in at $14.25MM base value, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets, but substantial incentive money is available. Unspecified incentives can take the deal up to $27MM. This could be contingent on Trubisky sticking as Pittsburgh’s starter.

The former second overall pick spent last season with the Bills, serving as Josh Allen‘s backup. That came after a four-year stint in Chicago, which included a Pro Bowl campaign in 2018. His 11-3 record that season didn’t end up as the taking-off point for a successful career as the Bears’ franchise QB, however. Struggling to find success despite the team’s strong defense and running game, he found himself holding a clipboard in Buffalo while Chicago invested a first round pick in Justin Fields last April.

Given the relationship that developed between the 27-year-old and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, many expected the Giants to be his destination with the latter being hired as the new head coach. “He’s a great leader of men. He’s just real and authentic with all the guys, and I think that is why so many people respected him in our building. So I’m excited to see what he’s going to do”, Trubisky recently said of Daboll.

With that said, the Steelers were also reported to be targeting the former Tar Heel last month. Trubisky was one of three signal-callers Pittsburgh was eyeing, the others being Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston. Despite the hole at the position, it became known rather quickly that the Steelers were not going to acquire Deshaun Watson, who remains by far the biggest name remaining in the QB market.

Trubisky will now compete with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins for the starting role in Pittsburgh. Head coach Mike Tomlin has stressed the need for mobility in the team’s next QB, which could give him a leg up on the competition. This news also further points to Daniel Jones being the undisputed No. 1 in New York, something which, of course, wouldn’t have been as assured had Trubisky signed with the Giants as many had figured he would.

Meanwhile, another team can be scratched off the list of those interested in trading for Jimmy GaroppoloThe Colts have been named as a potential landing spot for the veteran, along with, presumably, each team which loses out on acquiring Watson.

QB Rumors: Trubisky, Winston, Taylor, Lock

The Giants’ new head coach, Brian Daboll, worked with free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky when they were both with the Bills last year (Daboll as offensive coordinator). Well, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Daboll has interest in luring Trubisky to join him in New York.

There’s been some interest in bringing Trubisky to Pittsburgh, as well, where a path to starting is much more clear. If Daboll’s familiarity with the sixth-year quarterback is able to attract him to the Giants, though, the head coach sees the potential for him to mirror the results of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. A quick refresher: Tannehill arrived in Nashville in 2019 in a trade with the Dolphins. Tannehill started the season in the role of back up quarterback to the incumbent starter Marcus Mariota. After a 2-4 start to the season, Mariota was benched in favor of Tannehill, who went 7-3 for the rest of the year and led the Titans to the AFC Championship Game.

Daboll holds hope that, while Daniel Jones may retain the starting job in New York, if the need presents itself, Trubisky could provide the same effect as Tannehill.

Some other notes concerning quarterbacks around the league:

  • Another option the Steelers could be looking into, Jameis Winston is looking like the most likely starting quarterback for the Saints in 2022, according to Graziano. With Teddy Bridgewater headed to free agency, a return to New Orleans could be possible, and Winston may see some opportunities in testing the free agent market, himself. But Winston is a locker room favorite that saw success on the Saints before tearing his ACL midseason last year.
  • Tyrod Taylor lost the starting job in Houston last year to rookie quarterback Davis Mills. With Mills expected to return to the starting position next year, the Texans do have interest in bringing Taylor back in the role of back up quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Taylor has chased starting jobs throughout his career and has seen some success at times. He may search for a new opportunity to start, but, if not, Taylor has shown professionalism several times in back up roles mentoring young quarterbacks.
  • After receiving Drew Lock in the Russell Wilson-trade with the Broncos, Seattle is considering the elements to Lock’s lack of success in Denver, according to Fowler. Some believe that the revolving door of offensive coordinators contributed to his struggles. Seattle is analyzing whether they believe in Pete Carroll‘s ability to develop Lock, who showed glimpses of promise in his early appearances as a Bronco, or whether they need to make moves for Deshaun Watson to win now.

Giants Favorite For QB Mitchell Trubisky?

Mitchell Trubisky could be heading to New York. A team source who is “in the thick of it for a competitive backup QB in free agency” believes that Trubisky will ultimately sign with the Giants and compete with Daniel Jones for the starting gig, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Giants Likely To Target Mitchell Trubisky]

During a recent appearance on the Adam Schefter podcast, Trubisky spoke highly of the Giants and new head coach Brian Daboll, who the veteran QB worked under in Buffalo.

“I think of Coach Daboll right away because of my connection with him in Buffalo. I’m excited to see what he does in New York, really,” Trubisky said (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan). “I don’t know where I’m going to go, but I know whatever he does there, he’s going to do a great job with that offense. He’s a great leader of men. He’s just real and authentic with all the guys, and I think that is why so many people respected him in our building. So I’m excited to see what he’s going to do.

“And then, of course, New York, you think of the city. I haven’t been to New York that many times, but you think of big New York City and the Giants. So I know Coach Daboll will do a great job, and I’m excited to see that offense.”

We heard last week that Trubisky was on the Giants radar, but they weren’t necessarily considered the favorite at that time. We also recently heard that the former second-overall pick was “creating a lot of buzz” and would likely have a number of suitors pursuing him. After spending the 2021 season as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo, Trubisky will likely have opportunities to compete for a starting gig elsewhere.

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler, Trubisky’s market could get so hot that the QB could end up earning more than $10MM annually. The ESPN duo also mention the Panthers and Steelers as potential landing spots, and they note that an organization deciding to pair Trubisky “with a first-round quarterback such as Malik Willis wouldn’t shock a few teams.”

While Trubisky isn’t a sexy name, you can still see the semblance of a capable quarterback when you squint. He had a 29-21 record as a starter, and he tossed 64 touchdowns vs 37 interceptions during his four years in Chicago. Any suitors surely wouldn’t guarantee Trubisky a starting gig, but he would make sense to pair with a rookie or unproven young player.

Giants Likely To Target Mitchell Trubisky

While perhaps due to a stagnant quarterback market, Mitchell Trubisky‘s free agency stock has climbed in recent days. The former Bears bust may have interesting second-chance options as a starter or with a team planning a competition.

The Giants fall into the latter category, committing to Daniel Jones returning. But the team is expected to target Trubisky to compete with the in-house starter, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com notes. This would make for an interesting pairing, putting two maligned top-10 picks into a competition, and high-end backup money looks to be Trubisky’s floor at this point. The Trubisky momentum, as strange as this sounds, has been “off the charts” at the Combine, per Pauline.

Trubisky signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with the Bills last year, trekking to Buffalo after a rough Chicago stay. The Giants hiring ex-Bills lieutenants Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll would make a Trubisky addition logical, since the team still plans to have Jones in the picture. The Giants will listen to offers for many players, but Schoen said (via ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan) Jones and Kadarius Toney are not up for discussion this offseason.

Josh Allen made every Bills start last season; Trubisky threw just eight passes in six inconsequential cameos. But he has 50 starts to his credit. The Steelers are also interested in Trubisky, who will turn 28 before Week 1. Since Trubisky’s 2018 Pro Bowl alternate bid, in Matt Nagy‘s first Bears season, he trended downward in Chicago. Trubisky may need to be choosey with his next destination, as starter chances may be elusive if he bombs with his next team. The Steelers join the Giants in being interested in the former No. 2 overall pick, though they are open to other names as well, and the Bills would be fine with him back as Allen’s understudy.

Even though the North Carolina product may never escape his Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson ties, this year’s QB trade market stalling beyond Watson would be a boon for the free agent crop. Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Derek Carr not being heavily involved in trade rumors stands to help the likes of Trubisky, Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater. Aaron Rodgers staying in Green Bay, which may be becoming an iffier proposition than it appeared earlier this week, would also benefit the UFA crop, which includes Marcus Mariota as well.