Report: QB Mason Rudolph Would Consider Return To Pittsburgh

After spending the last five seasons as the Pittsburgh Steelers backup on the depth chart, it seemed a sure thing QB Mason Rudolph will be playing for a different team in 2023. A pending free agent, it’s plausible he could latch on as a backup somewhere else.

But the Trib’s Tim Benz reports that while Rudolph will test free agency, he isn’t ruling out a return to Pittsburgh.

“According to a text exchange Wednesday with a source close to the situation, Rudolph’s primary goal is to explore his options outside of Pittsburgh. However, he wouldn’t “close the door unnecessarily” on another contract with the Steelers.”

A third-round pick in 2018 the team traded up to get, he saw the majority of his playing time in 2019 following Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow surgery six quarters into the season. But thrust into his first NFL action, he struggled and the Steelers rotated quarterbacks between him and Duck Hodges.

Since, Rudolph has only seen occasional playing time. He made one emergency start in 2021, getting the nod against the Detroit Lions after Ben Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID a day before the game. Rudolph’s play was mixed and the Steelers tied the Lions.

With Roethlisberger’s retirement after the ’21 season, the door seemed to open for Rudolph. But Pittsburgh quickly slammed it by signing Mitch Trubisky on Day One of free agency and drafting Kenny Pickett with their first-round pick. Though Rudolph was talked as being part of the QB battle, he opened the year as the team’s #3, spent most of the season inactive, and didn’t log a single snap.

For his career, Rudolph has made 10 starts and thrown 16 touchdowns to 11 interceptions during his time in Pittsburgh.

With enough starting experience, Rudolph could probably land a backup job with another team. But it sounds like Rudolph won’t completely close the door on the Steelers. If the team cuts Trubisky in a cap-saving move, Rudolph could sign as the team’s #2 and be one snap away from playing. Elsewhere in the article, Benz mentions his source believes the team could also try to trade Trubisky, though it’s unclear how strong of a market he’ll have.

If the free agent market is cold, he could return to the Steelers, who would probably want him back as a trusted backup behind Pickett.

Rudolph is one of only a handful of notable unrestricted offensive Steelers’ free agents. Free agency officially begins on March 15th.

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