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Steelers Friday mailbag: Will Mason Rudolph return in 2024?

Answering your questions ahead of the NFL divisional round

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Welcome to the Steelers’ Friday mailbag, where we answer your questions every week. Thank you as always to the BTSC community for your continued support. Let’s open some envelopes.

Q: With all of the doom and gloom dividing the fanbase over Mike Tomlin’s tenure, how refreshingly funny is it that Jerry Jones is bringing Mike McCarthy back to Dallas?- Ethan McCourt

A: I was incredibly shocked that Jerry brought McCarthy back. Especially as Jerry gets older and wants to see another championship.

Q: Do you feel Lawrence Timmons is one of the most under-rated players for the Steelers?- plukacs

A: Oh I like this one. I think over the last 20 years, Timmons and James Farrior are the new biggest unsung heroes of those mid-2000s to early 2010s defenses. Larry Foote could also be thrown in there.

Q: Cam just stated he’s not retiring and will not be taking a pay cut. Are the Steelers going to roll with that ridiculous cap hit?- Jimmyp19

A: I would expect an extension to spread out that money. Either that, or they can convert some of it into a roster bonus.

Q: What do you make of Coach Tomlin’s somewhat emotional presser?- Pittsblitz56

A: I thought Tomlin was forthcoming and more open than we’ve seen in the past. I think this season may have been his most stressful and made him do a lot of thinking. I’m not completely giving up on huge moves being made at quarterback- I’m going to remain hopeful that a lot of the quarterback chatter was just to save face. Frankly speaking, I hope he and the franchise go balls to the wall this offseason.

Q: What is the state of the Steelers defensive line?- timmydrozz

A: They’ll be adding depth to that unit this offseason. Cam and Keeanu Benton, those are the two focal points in the middle. I like Larry Ogunjobi, though his $10.5 million cap hit next year is something I don’t love (I think they’ll rework some money there). They need more youth, though. Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal, and Armon Watts are more filler than anything. They need to upgrade the depth on the defensive line.

Q: Outside of Rudolph (who I believe will be gone), which of the UFAs do you believe are worth re-signing?- StillGrill

A: My dream is Kirk Cousins. Go all in, sign Cousins, make Klint Kubiak the OC, and go for a Super Bowl. Assuming they don’t do that, Baker Mayfield would be nice. Maybe Jameis Winston? Any other free agent signing basically says “It’s Kenny’s job.” Tyrod Taylor, Gardner Minshew, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Tannehill- none of those guys are leading the Steelers to a championship. I really hope they don’t do another Trubsiky-esc signing and just run 2022 back.

Q: What other teams may want to sign Mason and give him a good chance to start? Will the Steelers be able to sign an OC before most of the head coaching vacancies are filled?- ecbucs

A: I don’t know if there will be teams that will want Rudolph to be the starter. He played well, but I don’t foresee any team saying “Mason Rudolph is our answer.” If Baker leaves Tampa, I think that would be a pretty obvious one. The Raiders could use him as a bridge, but they already have Aidan O’Connell. The Vikings if Cousins leaves. I think if he does start, it’ll be as a bridge starter for a team who drafts a quarterback.

Q: Assuming Mason returns, as I think most of us hope he does, and there is a legit QB competition between him and Kenny. What would you need to see from Kenny to convince you he is the better option prior to the first game of the season?- Deutsch757

A: Frankly there isn’t anything that would happen in the preseason that would tell me Pickett deserves the job. 2023 taught us that the preseason doesn’t mean anything in terms of how efficient teams are. If Rudolph comes back, I’ll call my shot and say he wins the starting job rather easily. He also seems to have the support of the locker room.

Q: How do you feel about Kliff Kingsbury as Offensive Coordinator? I don’t like him as a head coach but the experience is nice, also he does seem to be innovative as an offensive guru. Could be a nice match, we get fresh blood with a good proven offensive back ground with a chip on his shoulder to get back into being a head coaching candidate.- 6burghInThe780

A: It looks like Kliff is going to Chicago, which basically signifies they are drafting Caleb Williams and trading Justin Fields. I like Kliff, but he’s a Hall of Fame coattail rider.

Q: After today’s press conference, do you think adding a QB in the first few rounds of the draft is off the table entirely?- AmperandSteel

A: I think they take one in the mid-rounds, Michael Pratt of Tulane is one that a lot of guys on the beat, and a lot of national guys think would be a good fit.