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.