Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances, it will be a direct response to something that just happened. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: QB Mason Rudolph
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: While the fifth-year veteran did not carry over into the starting lineup as the lone incumbent, Mason Rudolph was still treated with due deference as a veteran quarterback on the roster, and at least some reports about his performance during spring drills were positive—but he clearly is not tracking to be a starter.
This seems like a pretty textbook case of ‘stock even’ to me—and I’m hoping that a lot of people agree for once. As soon as Kenny Pickett was drafted, people already began talking about potential trade scenarios that see the Steelers move Mason Rudolph. The subsequent addition of Chris Oladokun just added a bit more fuel to the fire.
I don’t know whether or not Rudolph is actually going to end up being traded. But the Steelers are not treating him like an eminently moveable commodity. He was consistently installed as the number two quarterback in the order throughout spring drills, behind free agent addition Mitch Trubisky, and at least some reports were in the positive column when it comes to characterizing his play.
Really, though, the reports on all of the quarterbacks were mixed. That should be much of a shock, as this group of quarterbacks is, uh, a mixed bag. There’s a fair chance that there isn’t a quarterback currently on the roster who is ever going to be a ‘franchise’ quarterback, if we’re being brutally honest.
It’s too soon to know that about, say, Kenny Pickett, but Rudolph we’ve seen for four years, already, including in roles that saw him functioning as the starter during practice, since Ben Roethlisberger took a lot of practice time off throughout Rudolph’s entire tenure in Pittsburgh.
By and large, Rudolph is said to have looked like Rudolph during this past month, and how good or bad of a thing that is depends entirely on what you think Rudolph looked like before now. The Steelers didn’t think he looked better than a 39-year-old Roethlisberger last year. What are the odds that he looks better than a sixth-year Mitch Trubisky after a year on the bench?