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Report: Mason Rudolph, Steelers Never Got Close on New Contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers never got close to signing Mason Rudolph to a new contract extension, ESPN reports.



Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Mason Rudolph against the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 6, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Before free agency opened, the Pittsburgh Steelers remained adamant about doing business with quarterback Mason Rudolph. All three major decision makers said that same thing, but in the end, Rudolph walked to the Tennessee Titans for a one-year, $3.62 million deal. And according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the team and Rudolph never got very close on a new contract.

“Rudolph, who impressed the team with his work ethic and poise in the four-game starting stint, was an early favorite to re-sign with the team but a deal between the two sides never got close, according to a source familiar with the negotiations,” Pryor said.

The 28-year-old Rudolph was the final member of the Steelers’ 2018 NFL Draft class that remained on the team. He spent six seasons in Pittsburgh, playing in 21 games and making 13 starts.

His most extensive playing time came in 2019, when he was the backup to Ben Roethlisberger and was thrust into a starting role when Roethlisberger was lost for the season to an elbow injury in the first half of Week 2. 

Rudolph started eight games and completed 176 of 283 passes (62.2%) for 1,765 yards (6.2 yards per attempt) and an 82.0 passer rating. Rudolph dealt with two injuries of his own that forced him from action, and he was benched at one point during the season for former fourth-stringer Devlin “Duck” Hodges.

Rudolph returned to a backup role after that, making one start each behind Roethlisberger in 2020 and 2021. In 2022, he entered a three-way competition for quarterback with free agent Mitch Trubisky and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett and finished in third. He was active for just one game all season and did not make an appearance.

He was a free agent last offseason, but got no significant offers and decided to return to Pittsburgh to again be the No. 3 quarterback. After Pickett was lost to a high-ankle sprain late in the season, and Trubisky struggled in two starts, the Steelers turned to Rudolph for the final three games of the regular season.

Mason Rudolph responded with the best play of his career, completing 55 of 75 (74.3%) for 719 yards (10.5 yards per attempt) and a 118.0 quarterback rating. He led the Steelers to three straight victories and a playoff spot, before losing in the Wild Card round to the Buffalo Bills.

Rudolph’s strong 2023 season got him some offers in free agency that weren’t there last year, and he lands in a strong position to back up Levis in Tennessee. The former second-round pick had an up-and-down rookie season, and is positioned to be a potential future long-term starter, but is less proven than many other first-rank starters.