2023 Offseason Questions: Why Are We Pretending Steelers Might Cut Mitch Trubisky?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead, they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answering, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Why are we pretending that the Steelers might cut Mitch Trubisky?

Seriously? When is the last time that the Steelers have cut a player that they have actively talked about keeping and who wasn’t already widely anticipated as being a likely cap casualty? It doesn’t really happen, if you really think about it, does it?

This only became a conversation yesterday because a beat reporter who’s been on the ‘Pittsburgh doesn’t want to keep Trubisky at $8 million bandwagon’ beat the same drum yet again. Previously, he suggested Joshua Dobbs as a possible alternative backup. Now it’s Jacoby Brissett.

But let’s be honest here. Do any of our readers truly believe there is any more than the remotest chance the Steelers might cut Trubisky? This isn’t even a situation like Joe Schobert last year where they acquired a player late in the offseason via trade whose contract they had to inherit.

They knew exactly what they were doing when they signed Trubisky. The intention was to draft Kenny Pickett if he was available, and Pickett was going to be the starter no later than 2023 either way. It worked out that they got Pickett and he’s already started plenty.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t still need a backup, and Mason Rudolph isn’t going to be here. After he got benched, and in doing so was essentially liberated from a perhaps self-enforced conservatism of play, Trubisky looked a lot better when he was on the field—and when he wasn’t throwing interceptions.

$8 million isn’t cheap for a backup, but it’s also not unreasonable, and it’s a lot less unreasonable when your starter is on a rookie contract. Teams with rookie starters at quarterback frequently have more expensive veteran backups. The Steelers are now one of those teams.

It’s far more likely that they add void years to Trubisky’s deal in the unlikely event that they become desperate for cap space that they can’t otherwise create than it is that they actually cut him, or even ask him to take a pay cut.

They haven’t asked anybody to take a pay cut except when they have been in dire cap straits, most recently following the COVID-19-crunched 2021 cap season when they reworked Ben Roethlisberger’s deal, including a small pay cut, to retain him for one final season. They also signed players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Cameron Sutton to deals with void years in them because they needed to. They haven’t done that since.

Some things might change with the shift at general manager, but Omar Khan was always the cap guy. That’s one area where we can make safe predictions, and history says it’s very unlikely they even touch Trubisky’s contract. He might not be thrilled to be a backup, but he’s happy to make $8 million, and the team is happy to have a solid backup. It’s not like he’s going to start somewhere else.

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