While it appears his window to be the Steelers‘ starting quarterback has closed, Mason Rudolph may receive a new opportunity sometime in the very near future. There is some interest around the league for Rudolph, according to Ian Rapoport, and the Steelers would listen to potential trade offers, but for the right price.
The longest-tenured of the Steelers’ quarterbacks, Rudolph has gone 26 of 36 for 220 yards with two touchdowns this preseason while playing with Pittsburgh’s second- and third-team offenses. The fifth-year veteran and former third-round pick owns a 5-4-1 regular-season record as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. He started the summer as the Steelers’ No. 2 quarterback behind Mitchell Trubisky but has since moved behind rookie Kenny Pickett in the pecking order.
While the win won’t count in the official stat books, the Steelers’ come-from-behind victory over the Jaguars last Saturday night certainly meant something to Rudolph and the other offensive players who contributed to Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive. Rudolph capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Tyler Snead on fourth and goal with 1:55 left.
“I was happy with the way we played and the way we finished,” Rudolph said after the game. “I think [the experience of moving around between offensive units] only hardens you. It only makes you better. Just being adaptable, going back and forth and mesh with other teammates that you might not get to play with had you stayed with the first or second group.
“I can’t control it, but I was happy with the guys and the way we meshed tonight.”
While the Steelers’ quarterback competition has been billed as a three-man race, it appears the job was Trubisky’s to lose after Pittsburgh inked him to a two-year deal at the start of free agency. Rudolph’s odds at being Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement dropped further after the team selected Pickett with the 20th overall pick in April’s drat.
Rudolph received little work with Pittsburgh’s first-team offense during the final stages of training camp. He relieved Trubisky in the Steelers’ first preseason game (throwing a touchdown pass to rookie George Pickens on his third play from scrimmage), then played behind both Trubisky and Pickett against the Jaguars. Rudolph will again be the third quarterback to see the field with the Steelers host the Lions in Sunday’s preseason finale. Trubisky will draw the start.
While he has admitted he would’ve liked to have received more first-team work, Rudolph said he’s pleased with the way he has competed thus far. His focus continues to be on the Steelers’ quarterback battle, a mindset Rudolph will continue to keep until he is told to stop.
“Every day is important,” Rudolph said on his mindset entering the final stretch of the preseason. “We’re in the NFL. It’s highly-competitive, and I’m going to treat it the way I have the last four weeks. Attacking every day and being the best teammate that I can be.”