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A Letter From the Editor: The Steelers QB competition should be a two-man race

The Pittsburgh Steelers have three quarterbacks vying for one spot, but it should only be two.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting a close look at two of their four quarterbacks this weekend during rookie minicamp, and while Kenny Pickett and Chris Oladokun take center stage, the big competition looms large.

That competition would be none other than the battle to see who will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1.

While every black and gold fan has their own opinion of who they believe should be the starting quarterback, Mike Tomlin has made it crystal clear every player on the roster will be given an opportunity to prove their worth and win the job during training camp.

This all sounds well and good, but the fact is the team should not be having a wide open competition for the starting quarterback opening. At least not a competition with 3-4 players vying for one spot.

Oladokun is a player just fighting for a roster spot, so we’ll eliminate him from the equation. Barring injury, Oladokun’s hope of making the 53-man roster largely hinges on Mason Rudolph playing well enough for a team who suffered an injury at quarterback calls the Steelers and pulls off a trade for his services, making Oladokun QB3 on the depth chart.

Then there was three.

Mitchell Trubisky
Kenny Pickett
Mason Rudolph

In Bill Cowher’s book Heart and Steel, he spoke about trying to work a three quarterback competition, and it failed miserably. As he put it, there just aren’t enough repetitions to go around.

With that being said, the more I think about the Steelers’ quarterback situation heading into 2022, I tend to lean towards this actually being a two, not a three, man race for the quarterback throne. Let me explain.

Obviously, Trubisky was a prized addition to the Steelers’ offense, if he wasn’t viewed this way the team wouldn’t have gone out and signed him in the early hours on of the legal tampering period. Sure, they drafted Kenny Pickett with the 20th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they didn’t know that was a guarantee when they signed Trubisky. In other words, he was the guy they wanted if they weren’t able to land a quarterback in the draft.

Trubisky will, and should, be given every opportunity to win the starting quarterback job this offseason.

The case for Kenny Pickett is pretty cut and dry. When you spend the 20th overall pick, and it being the first quarterback taken in the draft, on a quarterback, you give them an opportunity to win the job. Throw in the fact he has 49 career starts in college and is 24 years old and the case continues to make itself.

There aren’t many, but there is a fraction of the fan base who is still thinking Rudolph has a shot at winning the job. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but to me that only happens if the previous two quarterbacks trip and fall flat.

Not only that, if I were to give Tomlin a suggestion, it would be to limit Rudolph’s reps during camp. Why? What more do you need to see of Rudolph you haven’t already seen? He’s been in the organization for the past four seasons, going on year five, has been a starter and received starter reps leading up to games with Ben Roethlisberger getting time off.

What more do you need to see?

If the Steelers valued Rudolph, or even thought he had a legitimate shot at winning the job, why get Trubisky in the early hours of free agency? Why feel the need to get a first round quarterback?

The answer is they’ve seen enough to know Rudolph isn’t the answer.

To bring this full circle, the fact the Steelers think of Rudolph in this fashion, and his history with the team, this quarterback competition shouldn’t be open. It shouldn’t be a four person competition. Heck, it shouldn’t even be a three person competition. The competition should be between Pickett and Trubisky, with Rudolph as the fail safe if they both flounder.

Hopefully Tomlin learns from the mistake Cowher made and the right decision is made even before camp. No, not on picking a quarterback, but preparing a competition which is best for the organization.

(Note: The Letter From the Editor feature runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)