‘We Can Win With Him:’ Art Rooney Expects Mitch Trubisky To Be Steelers’ Backup QB Next Season

Initially signed to be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ starter, QB Mitch Trubisky ended the season as the team’s backup. With an $8 million base salary in 2023 and the Steelers currently up against the cap, he’s been viewed as a logical cap casualty. But Team President Art Rooney II downplayed the idea Thursday, telling KDKA’s Bob Pompeani he expects Trubisky to be  Steeler in 2023.

“It’s still early in the offseason but I expect Mitch will be on the roster next season,” Rooney told Pompeani. “And be an effective backup when we need him. I think he showed we can win with him. I think he’ll be on the roster next year.”

Signed to a two-year deal in March, one of the first official free agent signings, Trubisky under contract through next season. He started the first four weeks of 2022 but after a 1-2 start and the Steelers losing to the New York Jets at halftime in Week 4, Mike Tomlin made the switch. Trubisky was benched (he also reportedly got into a shouting match with WR Diontae Johnson at halftime) and first round rookie Kenny Pickett made his regular season debut.

Pickett made his first official start the following weekend, cementing Trubisky’s spot as a reserve. He still saw action the rest of the season, replacing Pickett in a Week 6 upset win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Again, he took over after Pickett left with a concussion in Week 14 against Baltimore. Though Trubisky made plays between the 20s, he threw three costly interceptions in a loss. After an open competition during practice the following week, Trubisky got the nod in Week 15, doing enough to beat the Carolina Panthers as the Steelers leaned on their ground game. That was his last action of the season.

On the year, Trubisky went 2-4 as a starter, completing 65% of his passes with four touchdowns and five interceptions. He showed more aggression and willingness to take deep shots and made the occasional flashy play. Had Diontae Johnson gotten both feet inbounds in that Jets’ game, Trubisky probably wouldn’t have been pulled. But the reality is there is no path for him to start anymore. He’s now Pickett’s backup.

Based on comments he made after the season, Trubisky appears to regret signing with Pittsburgh or at least, making such a quick decision, telling ESPN’s Brooke Pryor he should’ve taken his time in free agency.

“I didn’t really have a long time to think of the decision. I wish I would’ve taken some more time and not just signed the first day of free agency. Looking back on it, just try to do some more research.”

Typically, Pittsburgh doesn’t hold onto players who want out and cutting Trubisky would clear a serious amount of cap space. But the Steelers also value having trusted veteran backups, a key reason why they didn’t trade Mason Rudolph, and if they don’t plan on being active in free agency this year, may decide to hold onto Trubisky. If he’s released, the only guarantee in the QB room is Pickett. The rest will have to be rebuilt.

Though Rooney added the “it’s still early” caveat, don’t be surprised if Trubisky ultimately remains on the Steelers’ roster, one snap away from entering the game.

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