Pretty much everyone in the national media believes the Pittsburgh Steelers either should or will address the quarterback position this offseason. Many propose that they go out and sign a veteran backup. Some delusional fools actually have argued for the team releasing Ben Roethlisberger, or hoping he retires, and using the relative pittance they save in cap space to acquire, either via free agency or through trade, a legitimate starter.
Roethlisberger, of course, is rehabbing from an elbow injury that cost him almost all of the 2019 season. He was seen grimacing several times during the second quarter of the second game of the season, and by half time, Mason Rudolph was under center.
It would be announced shortly thereafter that Roethlisberger would miss the remainder of the season and that he would be underdoing surgery as a means to prepare his arm and body to be ready for 2020. He remains on-track to be ready, though there remains uncertainty.
Since the end of the season, both head coach Mike Tomlin and then later owner Art Rooney II have weighed in on the quarterback position and have made it clear that they are comfortable, not only in the progression of the recovery of their starter, but also in the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster.
General manager Kevin Colbert furthered that sentiment yesterday. Speaking with Missi Matthews in an interview for the team’s website, he explicitly said, “we’re comfortable with those backups. We had two young guys that played last year”, referring to Rudolph, then a second-year player, and Devlin Hodges, who was a rookie undrafted free agent.
“Mason Rudolph, Mason was 5-3 as a starter. Devlin Hodges was 3-3 as a starter. Was that good enough?”, he asked. “No, because they didn’t play good enough, and we didn’t play good enough as a team to qualify for the playoffs”. But that wasn’t the end of his line of thinking. “Are they both young, potentially ascending players? Absolutely”, he added, before talking more directly about Rudolph.
“The most encouraging thing about Mason was, he started off, did some nice things, hit a slump, he was benched, Devlin came in, filled the gap”, Colbert told Matthews. “When Devlin got pulled in the New York Jets game, Mason came off the bench and did some really good things before he suffered a season-ending injury. So we’re encouraged by that”.
Rudolph was originally drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. After the selection, multiple leaders of the organization specified that they made the decision to select him because they viewed him as on-par with the quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round, and that they believed he could be the heir apparent starter. He has, frankly, a lot more to prove to that end.