Ever since the Steelers drafted QB Chris Oladokun in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL Draft, there’s been speculation that QB Mason Rudolph could be on the trade block. Rudolph took snaps as the No. 2 QB during OTAs and Minicamp, and Mark Kaboly of The Athletic wrote that “Rudolph looked the best of the four quarterbacks.” If the Steelers do look to trade Rudolph, his performance in the spring could certainly increase his trade value.
It would be a little bit strange to see the Steelers enter the season with three quarterbacks brand new to the team in Mitch Trubisky, Kenny Pickett, and Oladokun, but the Steelers obviously liked Oladokun enough to spend a draft pick on him. While they could put him on the practice squad, there’s always the risk he gets poached, and if Pittsburgh liked him enough to draft him, they might not want to risk losing him for nothing. Meanwhile, Rudolph has starting experience in the league, and while he hasn’t been great, he has shown flashes of being a capable starter.
Entering his fifth season in the league and on a one-year contract, this would be the year for Rudolph to prove he’s capable of sticking around as a high-quality backup or back-end starter. However, with Pittsburgh drafting Pickett in the first round, it’s clear that they view him as their quarterback of the future, and it may make sense for them to find Rudolph a new home.
It would be surprising to see the Steelers get anything more than a fourth-round pick for Rudolph (and they likely would have to throw in a sixth or seventh-round pick to get a fourth). The New England Patriots just moved on from backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham, trading him to the Las Vegas Raiders along with a seventh-round pick in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Rudolph has more starting experience than Stidham, and he also has performed better than Stidham did when given the opportunity, so Pittsburgh could probably get more than New England did in a potential trade.
The issue Pittsburgh faces is there aren’t a ton of quarterback-needy teams out there right now. The Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions stand out as the most viable options for a trade. Seattle is rolling with Drew Lock and Geno Smith as their top two options, while Detroit only has David Blough and Tim Boyle behind QB Jared Goff. Rudolph could immediately compete for a starting job in Seattle, while he would likely backup Goff in Detroit, but if Goff struggles they could turn to Rudolph relatively early in the season. Pittsburgh doesn’t currently have a fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft due to the Ahkello Witherspoon trade, so moving Rudolph for a fifth-rounder would likely be the goal for Omar Khan and Co. if they do decide to move on.
Rudolph’s future in Pittsburgh will be a storyline to watch as training camp and the preseason come around in the next few months. Let us know in the comments below if you’d be in favor of trading Rudolph or if you would like to see him stick around in Pittsburgh.