Kenny Pickett exited yesterday’s loss to the Jaguars after suffering a rib injury. The Steelers quarterback didn’t return to the contest, and while he managed to avoid a serious injury, there’s uncertainty surrounding his status for Week 9.
With the Steelers facing a short week ahead of Thursday Night Football, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says there isn’t a lot of optimism surrounding Pickett’s availability for that game. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seems to be keeping the door open, however, saying his starting QB’s status will truly be a game-time decision.
“I think the door is definitively ajar for Kenny,” Tomlin said (via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor). “Probably a game-time-type decision based on the information that I’m holding here today, with no structural damage and so forth to his ribs.
“And so, we see how we’ll go through the week, his ability to throw his level of comfort, his ability of effectiveness, et cetera, and let that be our guide in terms of determining his availability.”
Tomlin also said the team will have a “functional” practice on Wednesday. That session will play a key role in determining whether Pickett will be under center the following night.
If Pickett can’t play against the Titans, the Steelers will turn to backup Mitchell Trubisky. The veteran has seen time in two games this Sunday, including this past weekend. In total, Trubisky has completed 18 of his 32 pass attempts for 156 yards, one touchdown, and a pair of interceptions. The former second-overall pick got five starts for the Steelers in 2022, with Pittsburgh going 2-3 in those contests.
Kareem Jackson, S (Broncos): One-year, $2.67MM. Despite a 13-year career as a full-time starter, only guarantee is $152.5K signing bonus. Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News.com.
Byron Cowart, DT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Includes injury waiver for previous back and knee injuries. Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2.
Neville Hewitt, LB (Texans): One-year. $1.2MM salary. Signing bonus of $300K. Playing time incentives of up to $300K. Per game active roster bonus of up to $200K. Twitter link via Wilson.
Greg Little, OT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Signing bonus of $100K. Twitter link via Wilson.
Shaq Mason, G (Texans): Three-year, $36MM extension ($22MM guaranteed) on top of one remaining year of club control in 2023. Signing bonus of $10MM. 2023-26 salaries of $1.07MM (guaranteed) $9.25MM (guaranteed), $10MM ($1.05MM guaranteed), and $10.4MM (unguaranteed). Annual per game active roster bonus of up to $500K. Annual Pro Bowl incentive of $250K. $50K workout bonus from 2024-26. Twitter link via Wilson.
Trubisky was already under contract through 2023, and he was due an $8MM salary for the upcoming year. So, as Florio notes, the 28-year-old passer essentially gave the Steelers two more years of club control without any increase in 2023 pay and without securing any guaranteed money in the two tack-on years. It seems that after Pittsburgh unexpectedly re-signed fellow signal-caller Mason Rudolph, Trubisky was worried that he might be released, so in order to lock in the $8MM he was already planning to earn this season, he agreed to a team-friendly extension.
His contract is now due to expire when Kenny Pickett‘s rookie deal expires, so the Steelers will at least have a high-end backup on hand as Pickett seeks to establish himself as Pittsburgh’s franchise QB.
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.
MAY 19: Trubisky’s new deal will guarantee him $8MM this year, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. From 2023-25, Pittsburgh’s backup quarterback will be tied to a $19.4MM base package, Rapoport notes (via Twitter). More incentives are present in this deal, with Rapoport adding Trubisky can earn up to $33MM on it. The Steelers have since confirmed the through-2025 extension.
Second-year GM Omar Khan said during an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show the team is working on an extension with its backup quarterback (video link). Indicating the deal will be done shortly, Khan is prepared to continue the Steelers’ relationship with a quarterback initially signed during Kevin Colbert‘s final months as GM.
The deal is done, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The move will push Trubisky’s contract beyond 2023 and reduce the quarterback’s cap number from its present $10.6MM place. It is a two-year extension, which will keep Trubisky tied to the Steelers through 2025.
Trubisky initially agreed to a two-year, $14.3MM deal with incentives that could take it beyond that point. But Kenny Pickett replaced Trubisky as the team’s starter early last season, removing the incentives from the equation. But the former No. 2 overall pick has hovered on the extension radar for a bit. Despite being yanked as the Steelers’ starter, Trubisky is set to remain Pickett’s backup beyond this season.
Multiple teams pursued Trubisky last year, which came after he spent a season as Josh Allen‘s backup in Buffalo. Trubisky is obviously best known for his tenure in Chicago and likely will be unable to change that for the foreseeable future. The Bears traded up to draft the one-year North Carolina starter in 2017, and that move is now remembered for the team passing on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Trubisky fell far short of expectations in the Windy City, and the Bears passed on his fifth-year option — even as that decision did not include a full guarantee at that point — and let him walk in free agency in 2021.
The Steelers’ first Trubisky agreement came a few weeks before the Pickett draft investment, reminding of the Bears’ 2017 plan. Chicago had signed Mike Glennon to a multiyear deal before drafting Trubisky. The ex-Tar Heel replaced Glennon as Chicago’s starter in Week 5 of the 2017 season; Pickett made his first Steelers start in Week 5 of last season.
Trubisky, 28, became needed at points after being supplanted. Pickett sustained two concussions during his rookie season, bringing Trubisky back for a Week 6 relief effort — a win over the Buccaneers — and two December appearances. Trubisky also helped the Steelers to a win over the Panthers, as the team rallied from 2-6 to keep Mike Tomlin‘s .500-or-better streak intact. As a regular starter, Trubisky did not do much to hold off Pickett. But the Steelers clearly value the veteran as their top reserve.
Once Pickett stepped in last October, Pittsburgh’s QB outlook appeared foggy behind its starter. Rudolph played out his second contract and Trubisky could have pursued another free agency route in an attempt to at least earn another crack as a bridge QB. Not unlike Charlie Batch‘s conversion from Lions starter to Steelers backup once upon a time, Trubisky will opt to stick around in Pittsburgh rather than pursuing a quick path that would allow for a starter competition elsewhere.
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 Rudolphleaves 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 Pickettthe 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 ownerArt 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.
The Steelers faced quarterback uncertainty for the first time in a generation last offseason, after Ben Roethlisbergerretired. That ultimately drove the team to draft Kenny Pickettas his successor, but not before adding veteran Mitch Trubiskyin free agency.
The contract he signed to join the Steelers – two years, $14.25MM in base value – suggested that he would handle starting duties for a brief stretch before Pickett took over for good. Trubisky had a very modest salary and cap hit in 2022, but those figures jump to $8MM and $10.625MM, respectively, next season.
When asked about the former second overall pick’s Pittsburgh future, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, “I expect Mitch will be on the roster next year and be an effective backup if we need him. I think he showed that he can be that. We can win with him” (subscription required).
Trubisky, 28, started five games in 2022, making an additional two appearances in place of Pickett, who suffered a pair of concussions as a rookie. The former Bear and Bill struggled in his brief stint as a No. 1 again, throwing more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four). Pittsburgh’s passing attack certainly did not erupt in efficiency with Pickett at the helm, but the first-rounder put any potential controversy to rest with his play down the stretch in particular.
The Steelers would save $8MM by releasing Trubisky, making him a somewhat logical cut candidate. Pittsburgh could put those savings to good use, given how tight they are against the 2023 cap ceiling, though a replacement would of course need to be signed. Kaboly names Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissettand Andy Daltonas experienced passers who could likely be added on short-term, low-cost contracts. If Rooney’s remarks hold true, however, the Steelers could maintain the status quo with their top two QBs next season.
December 17th, 2022 at 10:57pm CST by Adam La Rose
Kenny Pickettexited 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 Trubiskyas 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 Rudolphthis 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 NFL.com 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.
For the second time this season, the Steelers lost their rookie quarterback midway through a game. Kenny Pickettexited Pittsburgh’s loss to the Ravens during the first quarter and was quickly ruled out by the team while in concussion protocol.
The same situation took place in mid-October, when the first-rounder was knocked out of the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Buccaneers. That, in turn, came not long after the team had officially committed to him as their starting signal-caller moving forward, after a brief and underwhelming start to the campaign by free agent signing Mitch Trubisky.
It was once again the veteran who took over for the remainder of this game. Trubisky helped the Steelers move the ball throughout the contest, but his performance was crippled by three interceptions made deep in Ravens territory. The former No. 2 overall pick finished the game completing 22 of 30 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown in addition to the trio of picks.
Trubisky has one season remaining on the deal he signed this offseason, but the timing of Pickett’s ascension to the starting role has led to a widespread expectation that the one-time Pro Bowler will find himself elsewhere in 2023. The same has reportedly been predicted in the case of the team’s third-string QB, Mason Rudolph. The latter was not a serious contender for the No. 1 spot during Pittsburgh’s summer competition, and has yet to see the field in 2022.
Today’s loss drops the Steelers to 5-8, and stops the momentum the team had built up by winning three of four games after their bye week entering the contest. Attention will turn to Pickett’s recovery from a second major head injury suffered in less than one season, and Trubisky’s performance in Week 15 against the Panthers if he is required to start.
Although the Panthers are startingBaker Mayfield in Week 11, they want to see Sam Darnold in action this season. Steve Wilks said he would like to give Darnold some work, though the interim HC did not indicate that would be certain to happen this week against the Ravens. “I’m interested in winning the game. This is not pay $250 to get to play,” Wilks said, via The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter).
Carolina used one of its injury activations to move Darnold onto its 53-man roster last week, but the former No. 3 overall pick did not see any action against the Falcons. P.J. Walker is out of the picture for the time being, after becoming the third Carolina QB this season to suffer a high ankle sprain. Mayfield will make his first start since sustaining his ankle injury in Week 9. Here is the latest from what has become one of the more complex QB situations in recent NFL history:
After playing hurt last season, Mayfield has not turned it around. On the radar for a potential franchise-QB deal in 2021, Mayfield is on track for free agency for the first time. The market for the former No. 1 overall pick may check in at $5-$7MM on a prove-it deal, David Newton of ESPN.com notes. Mayfield’s 17.7 QBR ranks last in the NFL.
This situation has been in flux since Cam Newton‘s 2019 foot injury. Prior to the team making the Newton-for-Teddy Bridgewater change, GM Marty Hurney and most of the Panthers’ scouts were high on Justin Herbert. But Matt Rhule did not view 2020 as the window to draft a quarterback, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com indicating in an expansive piece the team saw a jump from No. 7 overall to No. 4 — ahead of the QB-seeking Dolphins and Chargers — as too costly. While then-Giants GM Dave Gettleman was not keen on trading down, going most of his GM career without ever doing so, the Panthers not making a push for Herbert has led to QB chaos.
After the Panthers determined Bridgewater — a preference of former OC Joe Brady — would be a one-and-done in Charlotte, they made a big offer for Matthew Stafford. Negotiations between new Panthers GM Scott Fitterer and Lions rookie GM Brad Holmes at the 2021 Senior Bowl led to Panthers brass leaving Mobile believing they were set to acquire Stafford, Fowler notes. It is interesting to learn how far the GMs progressed in talks, because Stafford made it known soon after he did not want to play for the Panthers. The Rams then came in late with their two-first-rounder offer, forcing the Panthers and others to look elsewhere.
Rhule then pushed hard for Darnold, Fowler adds, after Panthers staffers went through film sessions evaluating he, Carson Wentz and Drew Lock. The Panthers sent the Jets second-, fourth- and sixth-round picks for the former No. 3 overall pick and picked up his guaranteed $18.9MM fifth-year option. Owner David Tepper begrudgingly picked up the option but became irked by the 2023 cost hanging over the franchise, per Fowler. Tepper is believed to have held up this year’s Mayfield trade talks in order to move the Browns to pick up more money on his option salary. The delay was connected to the Panthers already having Darnold’s fifth-year option to pay.
Tepper’s main prize during this multiyear QB odyssey, Deshaun Watson, was leery of the Panthers’ staff uncertainty, Fowler adds. All things being equal between the four finalists — Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, New Orleans — the Panthers were not believed to be Watson’s first choice. The Falcons were viewed as the team that would have landed Watson if the Browns did not make that unprecedented $230MM guarantee offer.
Fitterer offered support for a Mitch Trubisky signing this offseason, according to Fowler, who adds the team never engaged in extended talks with Jimmy Garoppolo‘s camp. While Garoppolo said the Panthers were in the mix, the team was believed to be leery of his injury history. Trubisky is in Year 1 of a two-year, $14.3MM deal. While Trubisky may well be available again in 2023, the Panthers — having added six draft picks from the Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson trades — will be connected to this year’s crop of QB prospects.
Kenny Pickett‘s second career start was headed in a much better direction than his first one before he had to exit the game. The rookie quarterback took a hard hit in the third quarter of the Steelers’ game against the Buccaneers, and suffered a concussion. The team quickly announced that he was out for the remainder of the game.
The first-rounder replaced veteran Mitch Trubiskyin the second half of Pittsburgh’s Week 4 game. To little surprise, that was followed by head coach Mike Tomlin naming him the starter moving forward. Pickett’s first full game ended in a 38-3 loss to the Bills, in which he threw for 327 yards and an interception.
That, coupled with a plethora of major injuries in the secondary, led to tempered expectations at best for today’s showing. However, Pickett went 11-of-18 for 67 yards and his first career touchdown pass prior to the injury. That gave the team a legitimate chance to pull of the upset at the time Trubisky came into the game. His benching had come after underwhelming performances, though, so his level of play came as a surprise as well.
Trubisky completed 9 of 12 passes, totaling 144 yards and one touchdown in relief. The score came on what ended up being the game-sealing drive, as the Steelers completed the 20-18 upset. That ended Pittsburgh’s losing streak, and could ease concerns about the former No. 2 overall pick resuming the starter’s role if doing so becomes necessary.
Pickett’s injury comes in the wake of new concussion protocols being agreed to and implemented. While much of the focus has been placed on erring on the side of caution with respect to removing players from games on the suspicion of head trauma, recovery timelines will not doubt be watched closely as well. Pickett’s status will be worth monitoring in the build-up to Pittsburgh’s game next Sunday against Miami.