The Pittsburgh Steelers still have to find a third-string quarterback at some point over the next several months. Given that they already have the two they intend to ride with in Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, it’s not a pressing need, but one that must be gotten to over time.
Mason Rudolph was that third quarterback in 2022, after spending most of his career as the number two. One would expect that he wasn’t thrilled with how last season went—but considering there have been no reports of any team being interested in him, one wonders how deep the resentment has to be to prefer going unsigned.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who seems consistently to have had not only a higher opinion generally of his play but also a lower opinion of how the Steelers treated him, commented on the matter on Wednesday while fielding fan questions.
One asked if there was any scenario in which Rudolph returns to be the number three quarterback and if the Steelers would be interested. “Absolutely the Steelers would want him”, Dulac said. “But the reverse isn’t true”.
Back in February during the NFL Scouting Combine, Steelers general manager Omar Khan told reporters that “the door’s still open” for Rudolph to return. Pittsburgh has done nothing to address the quarterback position since then, so one would assume that the door remains open.
But an open door serves little purpose for one who has no intention of walking through it. I do buy that Rudolph is upset with how the organization handled the past season and has some feelings about whether or not he was treated fairly. He had some snappy comments to make in the past about his being stuck at third on the depth chart, but that’s also a competitor talking. Even Dulac reported that Rudolph never asked to be traded. But he has continued to go to bat for the former third-round pick.
Asked why a proposed three-year, $6 million deal to bring back Rudolph and cut Trubisky wouldn’t make sense, he responded, “Because you’re not Mason Rudolph and you weren’t demoted and you were never given a chance in the preseason and you never dressed for only one game”.
Of course, there are numerous problems with this statement, starting with the fact that there can be no demotion when there is no hierarchy—neither Pickett nor Trubisky were part of the team prior to last season, so no pecking order was established.
Beyond that, there may be a perception that Rudolph was “never given a chance”, but the reality is that he played roughly an equal number of snaps both during training camp and the preseason. If anything, the Steelers wasted too many snaps on him when they had two quarterbacks new to the system, one of whom was a rookie, while almost completely dismissing a fourth quarterback who was also a rookie draft pick.
But it is true that he only dressed for one game. Because there was only one game in which the two quarterbacks who were ahead of him on the depth chart were not both available. That’s how being a third-string quarterback works. So I hope for Rudolph’s sake he’s not biting off his nose to spite his face. The USFL is about to get its season underway if he’s interested. I’m sure he’s better than whoever the Pittsburgh Maulers have at quarterback. First game’s on Sunday on FS1, Mason.