Mitch Trubisky entered the year as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but by the end of 2022, he was usurped by the young rookie Kenny Pickett. However, he still has a second year on his contract, so what in the world should the Steelers do with him this year?
Back at the NFL Combine, Steelers general manager Omar Khan did a deep dive into what he believes needs to be done about Trubisky this offseason. Needless to say, it did not seem like the Steelers were too keen on moving on from Trubisky in the offseason, although his release would save ample cap space.
“Mitch has been awesome since the day he got here,” Khan said. “How he’s been with Kenny has been great. I want Mitch around…. I think any young quarterback will tell you, having that veteran presence around them is tremendous, especially a guy like Mitch, who just handles things so well.”
Should the Steelers keep him as it is with his current contract, his cap hit will exceed $10 million, making him one of the more expensive backups in the entire NFL. If they did release him, they could save $8 million while eating a $2.652 million dead cap hit, according to Over the Cap. In a vacuum, that makes sense as the move, but it is clear that Trubisky carries far more value than just a backup to the Steelers. He is their mentor for Pickett.
So, okay, Mitch Trubisky is going to be in Pittsburgh in 2023. I think that should be said right now. He is going to be here and that should not come as something revolutionary. So, that leaves about two options that make sense. One of them makes sense for one side, the other for both sides.
The first is that they just extend him. Khan expressed an explicit desire to keep Trubisky around past 2023, though, so that could lend itself to this option. It would not only lower that cap hit that the Steelers want to get lowered, but on top of it all, he stays with the Steelers for a long-term option as their backup.
“I don’t want to get into contractual details right now,” Khan said. “Mitch has been great, he’s been great to have around and we’re looking forward to having him around not only this year, but for a long time.”
However, why would Trubisky do this deal? He wants to likely get into another opportunity where he can prove himself as a starter. Pickett is firmly entrenched in Pittsburgh at this time, and Trubisky, at the very least, should want to hit the market in 2023 to see if there are any opportunities out there for him on the starting market. There very well might not be, but there should be an explicit desire for him to see that. So, either the Steelers pay him lavishly to get him to turn a blind eye to that, or they let him test free agency without the long-term plan there.
However, the second option of two makes far more sense. Derrick Bell and Alex Kozora theorized that Pittsburgh could add a void year onto Trubisky’s contract to lower the cap hit. Why does that make sense? It is pretty simple. The Steelers would get the cap hit lowered to add some flexibility for this offseason, then, on top of that all, Trubisky gets to hit the market in the 2024 offseason to see what his options are in the league.
That seems like the most logical way to work this in. Khan did say they would not be scared to restructure contracts, but what about void years? They only did it during the tough COVID years on the cap, but this makes plenty of sense in this situation. It allows the Steelers to avoid spending significant cap space on Trubisky, they can avoid backup quarterback for this year, and Trubisky stays onboard as Pickett’s mentor for one more year.
Maybe, just maybe they can find a trade market for Trubisky. That can be another option here, as Khan did not close the door on a Mason Rudolph return, either. The trade cap implications are the same as that of a release, but it is hard to see much of a market is out there for Trubisky as we stand here today. But if those calls occur, the Steelers should listen.
However, my two cents on the matter? Throw in a void year and get this thing done at this point. Trubisky sees little long-term benefit of an extension, but that extra year does nothing to hurt him and gives Pittsburgh the cap flexibility they want for this offseason.