PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph isn’t necessarily looking forward to the future, but after signing a contract extension this offseason to become the only quarterback signed to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers through 2022, he’s in line to represent the future of the most important position in football.
Rudolph’s rookie contract was sent to end after the 2021 season, his fourth with the club that drafted him in the third round back in 2018.
But instead of jumping at a chance to hit free agency after four years of playing in Ben Roethlisberger’s shadow, Rudolph took the opportunity to secure his future in Pittsburgh for at least one more season with a one-year extension.
“At the end of the day, I want to be in Pittsburgh,” Rudolph said after the team’s seventh OTA session on Tuesday. “This is where I was drafted. This is home. This is where I want to continue to play. I love my teammates and I’m glad we’ve still got a great team, with a great roster and I’m looking forward to competing with this team each and every day.”
Rudolph has drawn mixed reviews as a backup. He didn’t play in 2018, was thrust into more-than-expected action in 2019 after Roethlisberger was injured and didn’t necessarily grab hold of that opportunity. In 2020, he got just one chance, in a meaningless-for-the-Steelers Week 17 game, but he played better, nearly ending Cleveland’s season with a comeback.
He’s not satisfied with being Roethlisberger’s backup, though. Rudolph wants to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and with Pittsburgh’s aging star on the final year of his contract at age 39, Rudolph could very well get that chance sooner rather than later, even if that’s not necessarily what he’s focused on at the moment.
“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working towards that goal every single day,” Rudolph said. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind. You know, I’m not worried about ’22 or anything like that. I’m trying to live in the moment and be the best I can for my team.”
The fact that Rudolph now has a two-year contract while fellow backups Josh Dobbs and Dwayne Haskins operate under one-year deals seems to be a sign that he has a leg up on the competition to become Roethlisberger’s successor, but Rudolph said even if that’s the case, he can’t let it change the way he approaches things.
“I think it’s always good to get the vote of confidence from your team,” he said. “Still, my outlook, my approach is to prove myself every single day, whether that’s in an OTA, when really we’re only doing 7 on 7 live, or that’s in training camp or throughout the season. So, it hasn’t changed my mindset. Obviously, it’s a vote of confidence. It’s encouraging. And Pittsburgh’s a place where I want to be for a long time and I love the whole organization here. It’s home.”
Steelers Now’s Nick Farabaugh contributed reporting from Pittsburgh.