Mason Rudolph agreed to sign a one-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers into the 2022 season earlier this offseason, knowing full well that it doesn’t guarantee him advancement. They added Dwayne Haskins before then, and it’s unknown if Ben Roethlisberger might come back.
It’s more than reasonable to assume that quarterback will be high on their draft priority list, as well. There isn’t a lot of certainty in his situation. But he’s fully aware of that, and understands that you can’t plan for the unknowable.
“I don’t think you really ever have any clarity, or any idea what any team is gonna do year to year”, he told reporters yesterday when asked if the various possible scenarios weighed in his mind before agreeing to sign the extension. “I think you’ve got to make the best decision for yourself in the moment, and I know I want to be a Steeler, stay in Pittsburgh, and I’ve got a good chance of seeing it here and accomplish my goals”.
“That’s kind of how I looked at it. I don’t get caught up in scenarios”, he continued. “I control myself and the way I perform and the way that I work. That’s how I’m looking at it. I’m gonna have a great Wednesday practice tomorrow, and everything beyond that is gonna fall where it may”.
A third-round draft pick in 2018, Rudolph is the first quarterback the Steelers drafted since Roethlisberger in 2004 whom they viewed as a clear candidate to potentially be their next franchise player. Though not drafted in the first round, Pittsburgh made it clear after the draft that it regarded him on the same level as those who were. Admittedly, so far he has been closer to Josh Rosen than Josh Allen.
But the truth is we have no idea how the quarterback situation is going to play out over the course of the next year. In terms of drafting a quarterback, there will have to be a quarterback they are in position to draft in order for them to do so, for example.
But would they pass up a first-round quarterback because they have Rudolph under contract? I certainly can’t see that being the case. Rudolph may still start in 2022 assuming Roethlisberger doesn’t return and they do end up drafting a player, but you never take a quarterback in the first round without thinking he will be your starter at some point.
To date, Rudolph has appeared in 15 games, going 5-4 as a starter. He has gone 201-for-326 passing for 2,089 yards with 15 touchdowns to 10 interceptions. He started one game in 2020, the season finale, a loss during which he threw for 315 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.