The Steelers have agreed to a one-year contract extension with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph, the team announced on Thursday, just before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft. The news was first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Rudolph, 25, was the Steelers’ third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has been Ben Roethlisberger’s heir apparent as the Steelers’ starting quarterback ever since. He was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season. The contract will pay him an average of $3 million per year through 2022, according to a report by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.
With Roethlisberger, Rudolph and fellow backup Josh Dobbs all entering the final seasons of their contracts, extending Rudolph will give the Steelers some guaranteed continuity at football’s most important position for 2022. Dwayne Haskins will be a restricted free agent next offseason, as well.
The 6-foot-5 Rudolph has had an up-and-down tenure with the Steelers. He was the third-string quarterback behind Landry Jones his rookie season and didn’t appear in a single regular-season game.
In 2019, he was thrust into a significant role when Roethlisberger went down with a season-ending arm injury. Rudolph plated in 10 games and made eight starts, going 5-3, but missed time with a concussion and then was benched down the stretch for third-stringer Devlin Hodges before eventually re-gaining his role.
Rudolph finished his season of most extensive playing time completing 176 of 283 passes (62.2%) for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 82.0 passer rating.
In 2020, he returned to a backup role, playing only when Roethlisberger was held out of the Steelers’ largely meaningless regular season finale in Cleveland. Rudolph nearly led the Steelers’ backups to a come-from-behind victory in that game, completing 25 of 43 (58.1%) for 324 yards and two touchdowns with one interception for an 87.7 passer rating.
Rudolph is the second Steelers player whose contract was set to expire after 2021 to get an extension this offseason. Free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick’s option for 2022 was reportedly picked up earlier in the week.