What a revelation on Saturday by NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. Whilst being buried on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback depth chart behind Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, wily veteran Mason Rudolph felt like his days in professional football were all but numbered.
Rudolph had so little interest from suitors outside of Pittsburgh, in fact, that all he could do was come back to be a third-stringer for the only team he’d ever played for.
That led to him exploring an exotic array of options for his future beyond the gridiron:
From @NFLGameDay Kickoff: This offseason, Mason Rudolph shadowed congressmen and senators and spent time at architectural firms and commercial real estate firms — planning for life after football. Now, he's a starting QB with a chance to send the #Steelers to the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/BK66qMG6kV
Perhaps the lack of interest in Rudolph stemmed in part from the to-this-day lack of clarity as to what he said to antagonize Myles Garrett in Helmet Swing Gate. Even with Rudolph and Garrett shaking hands and seemingly reconciling later on, you still have to wonder about it.
More saliently to the actual football of it all: If the Steelers saw enough in Pickett to keep starting him in 2022 — even though he threw only seven TD passes in 13 games — and the team had Rudolph in the building all that time, what did that say about how awful Rudolph was as a player that he never got a chance to play? I guess you could couch it in riding out the growing pains of a rookie first-rounder.
…Except Pittsburgh slogged through 12 more Pickett starts this season, in which he tossed only six TDs, including one in his last seven. Trubisky made two starts. Shocker: He lost both of them. A cool 71.9 passer rating on the season. YUM. In other news, the Steelers are fighting for their playoff lives in Week 18 and need help to get in! If only there was an easy, catch-all solution that could’ve prevented this!
Apparently, Mike Tomlin’s football operation needs some work on how they evaluate the most important position in the sport both externally and internally. It’s legitimate organizational malpractice to keep stubbornly trotting out terrible QBs like Pickett and Trubisky with a fully-capable Rudolph waiting in the wings, holding a clipboard.
Go ahead. Celebrate Tomlin for never having a losing season. That’s cool. You know what else is cool? Advancing in the playoffs past Wild Card Weekend, which the Steelers have done only twice in the past 12 years. Might have to make that 13 here soon. By all means, though. Celebrate low-variance mediocrity. Embrace scraping by with Battle of Mid QBs from now till the end of Tomlin’s indefinite tenure.
If the Steelers keep rolling with Pickett this next year — sounds like they will, oh boy! — there’s a chance Rudolph could be an attractive bridge option for another team in 2024.
Ian Rapoport on Steelers QBs: "Despite the fact that Mason Rudolph is going [today], my understanding is the organization does still believe in Kenny Pickett and in no way wants to move on from him after the season. Still a ton of confidence that he can be a franchise starter.…
Maybe this offseason, Rudolph won’t have to rapid-fire his way through various occupational internships.
It just kinda blows my mind that Pittsburgh had a 28-year-old healthy, experienced QB standing on the sidelines amid all their offensive struggles, and it never occurred to them to start him until Week 16.