On ESPN’s NFL Live today, analyst Marcus Spears spoke highly of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett and said he believes Pickett will eventually pass Mitch Trubisky as Pittsburgh’s starter.
“I still think Trubisky has a hold on the job, but obviously, it’s a place setter for Kenny Pickett,” Spears said. “Mike Tomlin is about winning. This contract and what Mitch Trubisky was given guaranteed is not in any way going to sway his decision on who their starting quarterback will be if he feels like Kenny Pickett is the guy that’s going to continue to push this team forward and move them in the direction they want to go.”
Spears used the example of Tomlin starting Devlin Hodges over Mason Rudolph in 2019 to illustrate his point, and he ultimately believes Pickett will be the guy because Tomlin believes he’ll put them in the best spot to win.
“Mitch Trubisky knows that it’s coming and eventually he will give way to Kenny Pickett and he’ll start. And I think he’ll be the future of Pittsburgh,” Pickett said.
It’s not exactly groundbreaking news that Pickett is the quarterback of the future in Pittsburgh. The way Mitch Trubisky’s contract is structured means Pittsburgh can very easily get out from under it after this season. More than likely, Pickett will be the 2023 starter.
If Spears is aware of that, then that means he believes Pickett will be the guy at some point this season. I’m not completely ruling out that possibility, especially with Trubisky’s playing time incentives, but if Trubisky is playing well and the Steelers are competitive, I don’t see Pickett surpassing him this year. I think Pickett will be the guy in 2023 pretty much regardless of how Trubisky plays, but for the year ahead I really have a hard time seeing any quarterback on the roster playing more than Trubisky will, assuming there are no injuries.
Obviously, Trubisky’s contract alone isn’t what’s giving him the upper hand on the job. In fact, I’d argue that it really has no bearing on the quarterback competition whatsoever. Knowing the incentive and bonus structure makes it so that it really wouldn’t even be a bad contract if he spent the year as a backup.
Trubisky’s play in camp, leadership and experience as a starter is what would win him the job, not his contract. Even if his contract was bigger, Spears is right in asserting that Tomlin wouldn’t just play him because of the contract. He’s going to play whoever puts the team in the best position to win, and right now I think he feels that it’s Trubisky.
Pickett is absolutely the future, and he looked impressive in the first preseason game. If he started a few games this year, it wouldn’t be that surprising. But on September 11 at Paycor Stadium, I’d bet Mitch Trubisky will be the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers.