With training camp and the preseason now in full swing, we are finally beginning to piece together some concrete data to attempt to draw conclusions about the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they will be during the 2022 season.
With new quarterbacks, new coaches in new roles, even a new stadium name, there is plenty of change, creating an environment of even less predictability. That includes the new general manager, which could potentially introduce new variables we will have to learn to adjust to over the years when making our own projections of what decisions the team will make.
These sorts of uncertainties are what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
Topic Statement: A Mason Rudolph trade would be the best option for all parties.
Explanation: The Steelers ostensibly have three quarterbacks competing for the starting job. Mitch Trubisky has been tabbed as the proverbial ‘QB1’ since he signed, but Kenny Pickett is the eventual heir apparent. That leaves Rudolph stuck in between, and in the meantime, potentially standing in the way of Pickett’s growth while not guaranteed of getting the opportunity he wants.
Rudolph is likely having the best offseason of his career thus far, and put down quality tape during the preseason, overall. But Trubisky and Pickett also looked good. No matter what happens over the next few months, one variable will not change: Pickett is supposed to be the starter, sooner or later.
And if Trubisky is the starter at the beginning of the season with Rudolph the backup, then you have Pickett doing nothing, taking virtually no or possibly literally no practice reps. If you have Trubisky as the starter and Pickett as the backup, then Rudolph is going to be miserable and will quite possibly ask to be traded himself.
The better Rudolph plays, additionally the more trade value he potentially has. And for practical reasons, you can hold onto him into the season in the event of an injury. They did deal Joshua Dobbs, for example, in 2019 after week one.
Trubisky starting and Rudolph backing up doesn’t necessarily mean Pickett is doing nothing. That’s the good thing about having Rudolph as the backup, because he’s been here for five years. He doesn’t need as many practice reps. He’s not learning anything fundamental. That leaves some free reps for Pickett to take, even as a third-string quarterback.
And we are also being too quick to discount the notion of Rudolph starting. It’s not too hard an argument to make that he has been the best quarterback in camp so far, and if we’re going to talk about the deep ball, he’s the one who found George Pickens in the far right corner of the end zone. If we can talk a Rudolph trade, we could talk a Trubisky trade, as well.
Additionally, this is a team trying to win the Super Bowl now. Whether you believe they can or not, that is their goal, and getting rid of a quarterback who can potentially start, or at least be a decent backup, is not in service to that goal.