Mason Rudolph ‘Has Indicated’ He’s Made Final Call on Steelers Future

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is not expected to be back with the Pittsburgh Steelers next season. But NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported on February 11 that Mason Rudolph probably won’t return either.

Mason Rudolph

“Rudolph, who will be a free agent next month, has indicated he’s interested in a fresh start after six seasons with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2018,” wrote the three NFL insiders.

Losing Rudolph and cutting Trubisky would result in the Steelers only having Kenny Pickett at quarterback on the 2024 roster. Pittsburgh would then be forced to add two new quarterbacks in either free agency or the draft.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and president Art Rooney II have said publicly that they want to re-sign Rudolph in free agency. The team also told that to the quarterback in private meetings.

However, Tomlin acknowledged that Rudolph signing elsewhere was a possibility.

“He is a free agent and it is free agency,” Tomlin told reporters at his post-season press conference on January 18. “So, we’ll see where that leads us.”

Mason Rudolph ‘Interested in a Fresh Start’

After starting the final four games of the 2023 season, including the playoffs, Rudolph expressed a strong gratitude towards his opportunity. Before his first 2023 start against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 23, Rudolph hadn’t played in nearly two years.

Rudolph showcased his thanks on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

“2023. Forever grateful to have been given an opportunity to take the field again as a Pittsburgh Steelers. God sure works in mysterious ways,” wrote Rudolph.

“There is no feeling on planet earth that rivals the thrill of victory alongside dear friends & teammates — Here’s to 2024.”

That tweet led to speculation that Rudolph would indeed re-sign with the Steelers.

However, it’s not surprising that Rudolph would consider alternatives.

While Tomlin voiced that he wants Pickett to compete for the starting job in 2024, the team still undoubtably prefers Pickett developing into the team’s franchise quarterback. So, it’s likely the Steelers will give him every opportunity to do that.

That’s usually how it goes for first-round quarterbacks.

Even if the Steelers re-sign Rudolph, they have a lot less invested in him than Pickett. Therefore, despite Tomlin calling for competition, the Steelers are probably going to lean toward starting Pickett. Rudolph would probably have to badly outperform Pickett to change the organization’s mind.

If Rudolph can find another team interested in naming him its starter, that’s obviously a better situation. Joining a team where he is competing with another career backup quarterback is likely a superior scenario too.

Free Agent QB Options for Pittsburgh Steelers

The good news for the Steelers is if Rudolph does indeed re-sign elsewhere, there will be other quarterback options in free agency.

Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson have been popular free agency fits for the Steelers. But they likely aren’t realistic.

Veterans Jacoby Brissett and Sam Darnold are probably more likely targets for Pittsburgh.

Ryan Tannehill has been another pending free agent quarterback floated as a possibility for the Steelers. The NFL insiders mentioned Tannehill in connection with the Steelers on February 11.

“With new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, the expectation is Pittsburgh will explore adding free agent Ryan Tannehill, who had his best years with the Titans while Smith was the OC there,” wrote the three NFL insiders.

One thing is for certain. If Rudolph departs, major change is coming to the Steelers quarterback room.

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