2023 Steelers Post-Draft Roster Review: The Quarterbacks
The major events of the 2023 NFL offseason are now complete. With the free agency period and the NFL Draft now behind us, we look ahead at how the Steelers roster has molded from the end of last season until now, and evaluate those changes heading toward training camp, the preseason, and the regular season.
End of Season Depth Chart
The usual “free agency” or “draft” reviews get lumped together here, as there wasn’t much activity until this past week on the quarterback front.
The first shoe dropped with the announcement that Mason Rudolph signed a one-year deal to return to the Steelers in 2023. Within days, the other shoe fell as well, with Mitch Trubisky signing an extension to remain with the team for the next three seasons.
The #Steelers gave QB Mitch Trubisky a 2-year extension which means he’s now under contract for 3 years and $19.4M, sources say. Including upside, Trubisky can earn a total of $33M over the length of the contract. A solid payday for a valued part of the QB room. https://t.co/NSiSKZu5cD— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 18, 2023
Post-Draft Position Roster
- Kenny Pickett
- Mitchell Trubisky
- Mason Rudolph
One of the biggest sticking points this offseason had been Trubisky’s status with the team. On one hand, it’s difficult to imagine the Steelers not wanting a veteran quarterback to backup second-year pro Kenny Pickett. On the other, Trubisky was entering 2023 with over a $10 million cap charge: of which $8 million could’ve been saved by trading or releasing the vet.
The third option was to extend Trubisky, spreading out the money from his original deal while also offering incentives in the event he once again ascends to being the starter. A lot of folks felt this was another “poor Mason” situation, and while the long-time backup stays in Pittsburgh, its debatable if his decision hinged on Trubisky’s status, or if the team signed Rudolph as leverage.
What is known is that NFL teams are going deep into their depth charts at the position in recent years. Owners approved dressing a third, emergency quarterback on game days for 2023, which means if Rudolph is the QB3, he could theoretically play.
This was seen last season with the San Francisco 49ers having to use Christian McCaffrey as a quarterback after first losing Trey Lance and then Jimmy Garoppolo. They eventually turned to the final pick of last year’s draft, Brock Purdy, who was surprisingly effective but also ended up with a major injury.
Similarly, the Miami Dolphins had spurts of cycling through playing Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater, and late round pick Skylar Thompson.
Keeping both Trubisky and Rudolph in their stable ensures the Steelers’ future, which begins with Kenny Pickett. Entering year two, Pickett missed some time in 2022 but returns healthy and as the starter entering offseason programs.
Pittsburgh rebuilt their offensive line to protect Pickett and help a bad running game that has uncharacteristically persisted for years. Also keep in mind that the Steelers didn’t trade any capital to acquire Pickett as a rookie, and the future looks bright not only for this position group, but the team as a whole.