Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2022 season is over, the team finishing above .500 but failing to make the postseason, we turn our attention to the offseason and everything that means. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on broader contexts, reflecting on a player’s development, either positively or negatively, over the course of the season. Other evaluations will reflect only one immediate event or trend. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: QB Mitch Trubisky
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Getting benched will do that to you.
Except in circumstances so rare they’re not worth mentioning, you only play one quarterback at a time. That means if you’re not under center, you’re on the bench, and that’s where veteran quarterback Mitch Trubisky found himself for the majority of the 2022 season.
That is only relevant due to the fact that he began the season as the starter. In fact, he started the first four games until head coach Mike Tomlin pulled him at halftime of that fourth game. The only playing time he received for the rest of the year came in games in which rookie Kenny Pickett was either concussed or recovering from a concussion.
Regular readers should know his background well. He was drafted second overall by the Chicago Bears in 2017 and lasted only his rookie contract there, sans fifth-year option, despite starting for most of that time. He settled for a low-paying backup job in Buffalo during the 2021 season in the hopes of landing a shot at a starting role a year later.
He found one, or at least believed he had, in Pittsburgh. And, well, he did. He started. And he started until it was clear that his performance was significantly holding back what the Steelers could do on offense. He surely wasn’t solely to blame, but nobody could argue he was playing well.
The thing is, he played better, and differently, when he had opportunities to get on the field after his benching. He played a freer brand of football, more aggressive, less risk-averse, and it suited him. At least it did outside of the three interceptions he threw against the Baltimore Ravens.
He admitted at one point during the season that he regretted signing so quickly in free agency rather than taking more time to explore all of his options. I think it’s worth clarifying that he did not say he regretted signing with the Steelers. I still think he would have wound up signing with Pittsburgh anyway.
I also believe the odds of him being on another team later this year are fairly low. He’s still being paid $8 million and he’s not going to find any more than that anywhere else. And teams don’t want to give away resources to trade for your $8 million backup quarterback.
Either the Steelers decide to cut him, I think, or he will be Pickett’s backup in 2023. Maybe he even begins to accept that he’s a backup and serves that role in Pittsburgh on a long-term basis. I don’t foresee Pittsburgh going after his $8 million base salary while they have a starter on a rookie contract.
They already have to find a new third-string quarterback. What do you think they would have to spend to find another decent backup? I’ve posed this question numerous times already and haven’t received a satisfying response.