With the regular season quickly rearing its head, 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: The Steelers are trying to trade Mason Rudolph for the right price by putting it out that they are reluctant to do so.
Explanation: The Steelers, I have no doubt, don’t want to get rid of Mason Rudolph—for cheap, anyway. But do they want to get a mid-round draft pick in exchange for him? Over the past 48 hours, we’ve heard increased rumblings of activities, phone calls being fielded, and reluctance on the team’s part to listen. That tells inquiring teams that they’d better bring their best offer. Like a fourth-round pick.
What’s more valuable, a third-string quarterback or a fourth-round draft pick? I know my answer, and I’m sure I know yours, too. Yes, Mason Rudolph might not be your typical third-string quarterback, but he is now a commodity that they can make available.
The question is where his value on the roster lies versus the value he can bring via trade. I think the fifth round is the tipping point. Would the Steelers trade him for that, or would they need more? He’s still relatively young, he has experience, and he has some talent. And there are several teams for whom he would be an upgrade as a backup.
In Pittsburgh, they have Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett, both of whom have looked equally as good or better than Rudolph. Yes, they like to keep three quarterbacks, and without Rudolph, they don’t have one. Yes, this offensive line increases the risk of a quarterback getting injured. But you can gamble with that—and re-sign Chris Oladokun, who, if you didn’t notice, went unclaimed and is a free agent.
Let’s not gloss over the fact that this is really quite a bad offensive line. The left side of the line in particular is a lot to worry about. Dan Moore Jr., frankly, may have looked better last year than he does now.
On top of that, Rudolph is the only quarterback on the roster who has an intricate knowledge of the offense, and he has been an asset to the entire room in that regard. Aside from the fact that there is a very realistic chance the Steelers are playing their third-string quarterback at some point this season, there is that value.
Although it’s not universally true, the Steelers generally don’t play games. When they say they don’t have any plans to do something, generally, they don’t. That doesn’t mean they would not do it, but they’re not going out of their way. Even when they ended up trading Martavis Bryant, you have Jon Gruden on the other end continually raising the price.
A third-round pick is hard to pass up, and there are no indications that they were actively trying to move him. Just like there has been no credible evidence that the Steelers are actively maneuvering to try to trade Rudolph and raising the price to a level they would be willing to pull the trigger on in order to do so.