News first surfaced on Monday that the Steelers had surprisingly re-signed Mason Rudolph.
Not so surprisingly, this immediately led to speculation that Mitch Trubisky would be traded away.
If there’s one thing that moves the needle almost as much as the NFL Draft, it’s talk of acquiring players, trading players, cutting players, and firing coaches. (Actual Steelers games come in third, btw.)
Yes, imagine what kind of haul (I hate that word almost as much as capital) in the form of future draft picks the Steelers could get if they traded Trubisky to a team desperate for a starting quarterback. Think of all the cap space—$8 million and change—they would free up.
What would the Steelers do with those future draft picks? What would they do with that freed-up cap space? Would this money be used to sign their recent draft class? Is there already room for that (I don’t know salary caps), and would this allow Pittsburgh to sign more free agents to—say it with me—shore up other areas of its roster?
As it pertains to those free agents, do any of them excite you? I mean, I looked at the list, and I can’t imagine anyone coming in and making an impact on anything other than the amount of traffic for various Steelers' social media accounts (again, transactions move the needle).
What I’m saying is this: The Steelers have a damn-fine quarterback room.
Some might say it’s the envy of the NFL.
The thought process for the “Ditch Mitch” speculation is that the difference between Trubisky and Rudolph isn’t that great. Therefore, why not trade Trubisky, see what you can get in return, and elevate Rudolph to second string? Who cares who the third-string quarterback is? If a team has to resort to its No. 3 quarterback, it’s in deep trouble.
That would be true for most teams, but the 2023 Steelers may be the exception.
It would be one thing if Kenny Pickett was the present of the Steelers. However, the present has yet to arrive, and Pickett is still the future of the Steelers. Hopefully, the future (or is it the present?) arrives in 2023, and Pickett takes his game to a level that is noticeably better than Trubisky’s. As of now, however, there isn't a huge gap between Pickett and Trubisky.
Even if Pickett does become the man in 2023, Trubisky would still make a damn-fine backup quarterback and someone who could come into a game and be quite effective.
I know what you might say, “There isn’t much of a difference between Trubisky and Rudolph.” Maybe. Maybe not, but there would almost surely be a huge difference between Rudolph and some youngster the team would sign to be the number three quarterback.
Even if Pickett doesn’t make a huge leap this year, the Steelers appear to be hellbent on (as ElRocco likes to say) taking things back to 1976 and trying to win that way. Maybe their desire isn’t to go back that far—perhaps they want to return to Bill Cowher’s Smashmouth philosophy of the 1990s. Probably most accurate of all: They seem to be modeling themselves after the Eagles and their method of dominating things at the line of scrimmage.
Does that strategy require a franchise quarterback to work? Jalen Hurts and his new mega deal would suggest that you need one to get you over the hump.
But what about just getting to the hump, a destination the Steelers haven’t even been in the same area code of for many years? Perhaps that destination only needs a quarterback who won’t screw things up too badly along the way.
At the very least, the Steelers will have three such quarterbacks in 2023.
If Pickett explodes in 2023, great! But what happens if he gets hurt for a game or three? He’ll have one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL to come in and hopefully keep things moving in the right direction. But what if both Pickett and Trubisky get hurt? The Steelers will possibly have the best third-string quarterback in the NFL on hand to come into the fray and hopefully keep things moving in the right direction.
For my money, a competent quarterback room will be way more valuable to the Steelers in 2023 than bringing in some fringe inside linebacker or the next Steven Sims.