It’s been a tough go of things for Mason Rudolph since the Pittsburgh Steelers spent a third-round pick on him back in 2018. After getting thrust into action due to Ben Roethlisberger’s injury in 2019 before getting replaced by Devlin Hodges (the team went back to Rudolph for one start in Week 16, but he got injured), Rudolph started just one game in each 2020 and 2021. With the team opting to draft Kenny Pickett and sign Mitch Trubisky to replace Roethlisberger after he retired, Rudolph has been glued to the bench as the team’s QB3. NFL.com listed Rudolph as a player who should be traded ahead of the November 1 trade deadline.
“Sitting at 1-4 after getting blasted by the Bills, Pittsburgh’s heading toward what could be Mike Tomlin’s first losing season as head coach. Why not see what, if anything, you could get for Rudolph? It was important for the Steelers to see enough in their other two quarterbacks during the preseason before making any big moves at the position. But now that first-round pick Kenny Pickett has replaced Mitch Trubisky as the starter, the franchise is headlong in reset mode behind the rookie QB, and there’s no future in Pittsburgh for Rudolph, who is a free agent after the season,” Eric Edholm wrote.
“Where Rudolph might best help is as insurance at the position, especially for a team that has suffered QB injuries and lacks quality depth. The list of teams potentially interested won’t be that long, but his modest salary (a shade more than $4 million) and age (27 years old) are somewhat appealing.”
The trade rumblings for Rudolph were loud during the preseason, but nothing came to be as Pittsburgh opted to hold on to the veteran quarterback for depth purposes. After dealing Josh Dobbs in 2019, the Steelers saw the Rudolph/Hodges combo take over, and they surely didn’t want a repeat of that in case of injuries. Holding on to Rudolph made sense for that reason, but with the season going downhill fast, it would make sense to try and get a pick for Rudolph. With his contract expiring at the end of the year, it doesn’t serve much use to keep him as Pittsburgh’s third quarterback when there are teams out there who have eyes on competing this year that could use more depth at the position. There are still three weeks to the deadline, and I don’t think anything is imminent, but if a team like the New York Giants, who just saw both Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor go down in the same game in Week 4, calls up Pittsburgh and offers a sixth-round pick for Rudolph, you have to think the Steelers would at least consider.
Before the year, the Steelers wanted to compete and having a quarterback in Rudolph around who has started and won games for this team before made sense. But given what’s transpired this season, Pittsburgh doesn’t look to be a playoff team. If Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky both get injured this year, which is probably what it would take for Rudolph to see the field, the season will already be over. Even if Rudolph would get them an extra win or two instead of another replacement-level quarterback, is an extra win in a lost season more valuable than a pick where they can get a player to contribute for the next few years? That’s something that Omar Khan would have to weigh, but I think if they can get something for Rudolph, they have to do it.