Player: Mason Rudolph
Experience: 5 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2022 Salary Cap Hit: $4,040,000
2022 Season Breakdown:
The Steelers knew the transition was on the horizon when they agreed to sign quarterback Mason Rudolph to a one-year extension in 2021 to make sure they had somebody under contract for the next season. This was going to be Ben Roethlisberger’s final season and they couldn’t predict how the following offseason would go.
It couldn’t have gone much worse for Rudolph, as the Steelers not only signed a starter-adjacent quarterback in free agency and then drafted one in the first round. In spite of his best efforts, he ended up third on the depth chart and sitting in street clothes most of the year.
He was forthright when he was asked questions about how the offseason had gone and if he felt like he got enough opportunities to compete, things of that nature. As soon as they signed Mitch Trubisky it was pretty much determined that he wouldn’t start.
Now the wide expectation is that he will rush to sign somewhere else this offseason when he hits unrestricted free agency. One can’t blame him. Yet one can wonder just what kind of market he can realistically anticipate finding.
Free Agency Outlook:
After all, who has ever shown interest in him? There were more reports about teams being interested in Joshua Dobbs over the course of his Steelers career than there had been about Rudolph. Chances are he’s not going to find some grand opportunity awaiting him coming off a season in which he was a third-string quarterback.
That does mean the Steelers will have to replace him and find another third-string quarterback. I’m sure theoretically they would like to just keep Rudolph around, and perhaps they’ll even try to make it work, but it’s difficult to conceive of a scenario in which he would come back to be third on the depth chart without exhausting virtually every other alternative.
Rudolph had incentives placed in his contract pertaining to playing time and things of that nature in order to coax him into signing that one-year extension in 2021. He never even took the field for a single snap all season, instead, and that potential incentive money remains safely tucked away.
But looking at it from another perspective, it still means that he earned $3 million without having to do any work on the field. Yes, he was surely dedicated in every other way that he was allowed to be, I have no reason to question that. And he obviously wanted to play. But making a few million bucks while being upset about not playing—things could be worse.