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Should Mason Rudolph start at QB for Steelers?

The third-string veteran is seemingly an afterthought in the Steelers plans sans Kenny Pickett

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Following the injury to starter Kenny Pickett, the Steelers have two quarterbacks remaining on their active depth chart — Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph.

Trubisky, the highest paid backup quarterback in football (tied with Jacoby Brissett at $8 million per year) entering the season, was signed by the Steelers in free agency two summers ago to be the starter — at least until rookie first-round pick Pickett was ready to take over, which happened in week four of last season.

In five starts with Pittsburgh in 2022, Trubisky went 2-3, and threw five touchdowns to six interceptions. Not exactly shocking that he was benched.

That doesn’t exactly scream “highest paid backup” numbers, in my estimation.

Next in the pecking order is Rudolph, who I believe has been treated about as unfairly as one possibly could in his five years in Pittsburgh.

When you play behind Ben Roethlisberger, there are going to be moans and groans anytime the backup QB is forced into action. Rudolph was that guy from 2019-2021, when Ben was still at the helm. But his numbers in hindsight should make you do a double take.

In 17 total games, including 10 starts, Rudolph has thrown 16 TDs to 11 INTs. His QB rating is 80.9, and he went 5-4-1 in those games.

In 25 games, including 24 of them which were starts, the now injured Pickett has thrown 13 TDs and 13 INTs.

Rudolph has been objectively better than Pickett - and I know the “Matt Canada” narrative will be built in, but it’s not like Rudolph’s coordinator, Randy Fichtner, was exactly Andy Reid.

Rudolph is basically the ex you later realized wasn’t so bad following a few years in the dating game.

I’m not here to say he’s going to save the season. But I don’t think it’s crazy to think he could be the best quarterback on the Steelers current roster. This is a team in need of a spark. A spark that Trubisky probably won’t provide against the New England Patriots Thursday night at Acrisure Stadium.

The backup quarterback is usually the most popular player on the team whenever the starter is struggling.

In this case - it may just be the third string.

I don’t think Pittsburgh and Head Coach Mike Tomlin will seriously consider starting Rudolph in the next few weeks — but it should certainly be revisited if the team continues to struggle offensively.