The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have four quarterbacks on their 90-man roster. Only three will be carried on the 53-man roster once the regular season begins, but it’s not impossible that a fourth is kept on the practice squad now that it has expanded to 16 players–regardless of the discussion of whether or not there are enough reps to go around to justify it.
Will they do that? I don’t know. But it would have to start with all four of them proving that they deserve to be on the team. We can safely project that Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett are going to be on the team, but who is going to be the third quarterback? Fifth-year veteran Mason Rudolph, or rookie seventh-round pick Chris Oladokun?
Well, it depends primarily on two factors: 1) does Oladokun look like he’s worth a roster spot—can they trust him to be the backup if somebody gets injured, and even to start if necessary? 2) what can the Steelers get in trade for Rudolph? They did get a fifth-round pick for Joshua Dobbs.
There are a lot of people in the ‘trade Rudolph’ camp, but how realistic is it? Can Oladokun really be ready to play this year, which he would have to be if he were kept? Would a team really offer the Steelers enough for Rudolph to bridge the talent and experience gap between Rudolph and Oladokun?
Mark Kaboly doesn’t think so. He was asked whether or not he thought Rudolph would be on the 53-man roster this year when the Steelers open the season, and he said that he does during a recent mailbag session for The Athletic:
I think he will be on the roster. They can save $3 million and potentially get a draft choice if they trade him, but is that worth more than the peace of mind that 2019 — when they were starting Duck Hodges and trying to sign Landry Jones off an XFL team he had yet to play for — doesn’t happen again? Now, it would be worth it if you aren’t redshirting Pickett and you can get a fifth-round pick. I can see Rudolph being the No. 2 on gameday and Pickett being more of a long-term guy if Trubisky gets hurt.
How likely is it that Pickett has a redshirt year in 2022—that is, that they don’t intend for him to even dress at all, as the number two quarterback? I don’t think that’s an idea that has really been floated around all too often. It’s pretty universally been expected that he would be no worse than the backup this year.
He did, of course, run as the number three quarterback throughout the spring, but that’s far from uncommon for rookies regardless of their pedigree. Head coach Mike Tomlin made it very clear that the rookie would be given an opportunity to compete for the starting job. So if he’s doing that, he can probably manage the backup role, as well.