As teams prepare to unveil their 53-man rosters, there are multiple teams that would like Mason Rudolph to be part of that equation. The Steelers have received trade calls for Rudolph over the past week, but they have no interest in trading him unless the offer is simply too good to turn down, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.
The Steelers reported reluctance to deal Rudolph makes sense given that he is the team’s only quarterback that has experience within offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system. Rudolph also gives Pittsburgh coveted depth at arguably the league’s most important position.
Rudolph’s experience is likely the reason why Steelers general manager Omar Khan recently said that he doesn’t anticipate any changes being made to Pittsburgh’s quarterback room before the start of the regular season.
“We feel very good about the three quarterbacks,” Khan said during a recent appearance on the “All Things Covered” podcast with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden. “Coach will decide how things will shake out, but we feel good about the three guys we have on the roster.”
The longest-tenured of the Steelers quarterbacks, Rudolph was 26 of 39 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 Steelers’ quarterback competition was billed as a three-man race, it appears that 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 draft.
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 attempted just three passes in Pittsburgh’s preseason finale, a 19-9 win over the Lions.
The 76th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Rudolph arrived in Pittsburgh after being a three-year starter at Oklahoma State, where he threw 92 touchdowns against 26 interceptions. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards as a senior while throwing 37 touchdowns against just nine interceptions. Rudolph’s favorite target in college was James Washington, who was also a member of the Steelers’ 2018 rookie class.
Rudolph and Washington enjoyed a successful partnership in 2019, helping the Steelers get off to an 8-5 start despite losing Roethlisberger to a season-ending injury in Week 2. A concussion sustained against the Ravens, however, appeared to have lingering effects on Rudolph, who ultimately lost his starting job to Devlin Hodges late in the season. Rudolph still managed to go 5-3 that season as the Steelers finished with an 8-8 overall record.
Rudolph started just one game in each of the last two seasons. He threw for 315 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 24-22 loss to the Browns in the final week of the 2020 season. While he was impressive in that game, Rudolph was not at his best during his last start, a 16-16 tie against the Lions in Week 10 of the 2021 season.