First there was one.
Now there are three.
At the very early stages of the offseason, way back in February and March, Mason Rudolph was the frontrunner to be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starting QB. Fast forward to late May and it’s a three-way competition for the starting gig between Rudolph, Mitch Trubisky, and Kenny Pickett.
Trubisky was the second man into the mix, inking a two-year deal on the first day of free agency and, at the moment, presumably becoming the team’s starter. But Pittsburgh aggressively scouted the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft and walked away as the only team to take one in the first two rounds, drafting Kenny Pickett 20th overall.
Speaking to reporters following the first day of OTA practices, Trubisky and Pickett embraced Pickett and the ensuing QB battle.
“I really wasn’t surprised,” Trubisky said about the team drafting Pickett, in video tweeted by The Trib’s Chris Adamski. “We needed to add some quarterbacks to the room. And that’s what we did. Happy to have him and we’re looking forward to working with him.”
Trubisky refuted reports that suggested the team told him they were planning on drafting Pickett. But Trubisky told reporters (returning to the Steelers’ locker room for the first time post-COVID), he expected competition no matter where he signed. Trubisky’s best two options were the Steelers or Giants. Had he chosen the latter, he would’ve been battling Daniel Jones for the starting job.
According to another Adamski video tweet, Mason Rudolph took a similar approach, focusing on doing all he can do to win the starting job.
“Each year I’ve been here, there’s been competition….the opportunity to play this year, everyone is going to be competing, trying to put their best foot forward. I’m approaching it with the same mindset as the last four years.”
Rudolph’s path to win the starting job is about as narrow as his path to reps. While the most veteran QB in the Steelers’ locker room, he’s also the most known face. Trubisky and Pickett need to maximize their reps in order for the team to accurately evaluate him. Frankly, the team wouldn’t have signed Trubisky and drafted Pickett if they were ultra-confident in what Rudolph – once viewed as Roethlisberger’s heir – could do.
Pittsburgh’s Week 1 starter is likely to be Trubisky or Pickett. Given his experience, Trubisky is arguably the slight favorite right now, but the Steelers are sincere when they say it’s an open quarterback battle. Today begins day one of that competition, one that will run through August.