It’s not out of the ordinary for there to be some uncertainty about who will start the season following a year in which a team has a franchise quarterback retire. The Pittsburgh Steelers at the moment don’t know definitively who will be under center on opening day in September, but they did, at the last give themselves options.
And Pro Football Focus continues to believe that it will be rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett on the field for the first snap of the season, with Mitch Trubisky sitting on the bench. Sam Monson made that selection last month, and now Ben Linsey, during another 22-man starting lineup prediction, followed suit. He writes about the quarterback position being the most interesting battle:
Whenever there is any question as to who the starting quarterback will be entering a season, it’s hard to go anywhere else for the most interesting training camp battle. Pittsburgh brought in Mitchell Trubisky on a two-year, $14.3 million deal that didn’t scream “locked-in starter” at the time and certainly doesn’t now after the Steelers spent their first-round pick on Kenny Pickett.
The only quarterback who earned a lower PFF grade than Trubisky from 2017 to 2020 was Sam Darnold. Pickett isn’t without his concerns as a prospect, but he has a better chance of providing a real upgrade at quarterback for the Steelers than Trubisky does.
So, it’s probably fair to say that Pro Football Focus is not exactly among Trubisky’s biggest fans, and certainly, his stock value wasn’t exactly high a year ago. He signed a very cheap contract to play as Josh Allen’s backup with the Buffalo Bills in 2021, just five years into his career as a former second-overall pick.
The perception of him around the league has improved somewhat since then, evidently based partly on what they have heard from within the Bills organization, about how Trubisky made strides and impressed him with his intelligence, his arm, and his poise.
Yet he could only find a contract this offseason that was heavily incentive-laden, and ended up signing with the only team who actually drafted a quarterback in the first two rounds. While he should still be the favorite to start on opening day, Kenny Pickett should provide some genuine competition, and hopefully at least make a run at it, make it interesting.