Several NFL analysts, both nationally and locally, along with a good portion of the team’s fan base, have berated the Pittsburgh Steelers quite frequently this offseason for either not drafting a quarterback this past weekend, or not signing another veteran quarterback. With the draft now over with and with free agent veteran quarterback Jameis Winston now signed by the New Orleans Saints, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was peppered with questions about the team’s quarterback situation during his Wednesday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan and he gave answers that you would expect and ones consistent with what he has said all offseason concerning the topic.
Colbert was first asked about quarterback Mason Rudolph, the team’s current backup to starter to Ben Roethlisberger, and if the team needs to find out in 2020 if he can be the future for the team potentially after the 2021 season.
“We’re hopeful that Mason doesn’t get the play a lot, quite honestly, because if he’s not called on to play, that means that Ben’s doing what we had hoped for,” Colbert said. “We’re very comfortable with Mason and where he was last year. Again, as I stated before, he was 5-3 as a starter. He had a bad game in Cleveland and that was his first game back after the injury. You know, he sat out the Charger game, came back and that was his first time back and Cleveland played a good game and quite honestly, we didn’t, and he didn’t. He tries to come back the next week against Cincinnati and probably tried to do things a little more than just to try to get the other game out of his system and it went backwards on him.”
Rudolph’s stretch of awful play against the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals resulted in him being benched in favor of rookie undrafted free agent quarterback Devlin Hodges. Even so, Colbert reiterated once again on Wednesday that he was pleased with not only how Rudolph handled his benching, but how he responded once given an opportunity to play again in the team’s Week 16 road game against the New York Jets.
“And you know, coach made a change and quite honestly it was the right change and no one, including Mason, would dispute that,” Colbert said Wednesday morning. “But what we really liked about how he handled his benching was he was positive. He worked harder. He stayed the course and when he was called on in the Jet game, he played his best quarter and a half and unfortunately, he got hurt. So, you know, a lot of times we find out about ourselves when we’re put in tough situations and Mason was last year and he responded both times, in my opinion. And we’re very comfortable with where he’ll be in year three, but quite honestly, we hope that Ben’s out there the whole season.”
As mentioned, Winston, whom many believe the Steelers should have pursued this offseason to be Roethlisberger’s backup in 2020, signed a one-year contract with the Saints thus week. In case you’re curious, that one-year contract that Winston signed reportedly has a base value of $1.1 million and a max value of $4.5 million via incentives, according to Field Yates of espn.com. The Steelers don’t do incentive-based contracts and especially not with backups.
On Wednesday, Colbert was asked if the Steelers explored at all the possibility of signing a veteran quarterback such as Winston or Cam Newton.
“We’re always going to watch what’s out there,” Colbert said Wednesday. “It’s my job to evaluate any position, any player that happens to be available. And we do that, but I can honestly say that we absolutely made no negotiation or any offer to any veteran quarterback.”
If any of what Colbert said Wednesday morning about the quarterback position comes as a surprise to you, you just haven’t been paying close attention to the team. The fact that the team chose not to draft a quarterback or sign one in free agency is not one bit surprising based on what Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and team president Art Rooney II have said all offseason. Barring injuries happening, or Roethlisberger’s elbow rehab going south, Rudolph will be the backup in 2020. The No. 3 quarterback in Pittsburgh will be either Hodges or Paxton Lynch.