Pros and cons of Mitchell Trubisky as Steelers’ backup quarterback

After investing in veteran free agent quarterback Mitchell Trubisky during the off-season in 2022, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kenny Pickett during the 2022 NFL Draft. Fans had mixed reactions about the franchise’s decision-making and exercised it throughout the entire 2022 NFL season.

With Mason Rudolph, who was in street clothes on the sidelines last season, seeking options with other NFL teams, Steelers general manager Omar Khan’s all-in attitude towards Trubisky remaining in Pittsburgh has created its own stir among the fan base, especially after Trubisky failed to meet “QB1” expectations and was supplanted by the rookie, Pickett.

Not everything is grim, however, no matter how Trubisky did or did not perform for the Steelers in 2022. There are pros and cons to Khan’s decision, and we weigh some of those here:

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Yes, Trubisky lost the primary focus of the Steelers when Pickett was able to take over as the starting quarterback. Khan, however, feels that the veteran offers the franchise some positive options moving forward, though.

“Mitch has been awesome since the day he got here,” Khan said. “How he’s been with Kenny has been great. I want Mitch around.” – Omar Khan

After he lost his starting spot, and Pickett effectively took over in Week 4, Trubisky showed a lot of emotion publicly; he was most obviously upset during press conferences early after the move was decided upon. Many thought that signalled a fracture between the quarterback and franchise that would drive the two parties apart as soon as the 2022 season ended.

Pickett, however, spoke often about how he’d been aided by Trubisky as the rookie adjusted to play in the NFL.

Not once did Pickett have a negative thing to say about his teammate.

And, when Trubisky was forced into late-season play due to injury to Pickett – albeit a brief performance – the veteran played much better (gritty, even) than he had ever played in a Steelers jersey.

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Trubisky’s contract is not a big bargain for Pittsburgh to carry into a new league year. Trubisky is on slate to earn $8 million in 2023, with a $2.65 million pro-rated signing bonus.

With several teams across the league rebuilding their quarterback options, the Steelers could have unloaded Trubisky, and that contract, with a favorable agreement had they been inclined. The biggest hindrance to that option may have been how other teams viewed Trubisky’s 2022 play.

Khan and the Steelers are apparently more interested in why Trubisky should stick around, however.

Trubisky knows offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s system. With Canada being retained through the remainder of his contract (that expires after the upcoming NFL season), there’s little worry of a learning curve. That allows Trubisky and Pickett to have their first real off-season together training on the same plane.

At training camp in 2022, Pickett saw next to no time working with first-team offensive linemen, receivers, or ball carriers. Having Trubisky and Pickett sharing snaps in camp in 2023, especially behind some new free agent additions to an offensive line (Nate Herbig, Isaac Seumalo, and Le’Raven Clark) that needed beefed-up, is a positive for the Steelers offense.

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Khan, regarded as a salary cap guru, has been working some magic during the free agency period. It’s unlikely his skill at numbers won’t factor into the moves the franchise make, including those involved with Trubisky.

Overall, the pros of keeping Trubisky with the team appear to outweigh the cons at this point. He hasn’t become a negative influence in the locker room per teammates’s statements, like some players in the recent past have. Trubisky, at least publicly, appears to have accepted his role with the team.

It will be interesting to see how his presence affects the overall workings and plans within the Steelers offense in 2023.

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