INDIANAPOLIS — Kenny Pickett is locked in as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the foreseeable future and general manager Omar Khan said on Tuesday that he wants to bring back backup Mitch Trubisky, but Khan also left the door open to a return by third-stringer Mason Rudolph.
Rudolph, who is going to be an unrestricted free agent this March, was a healthy scratch for all but one game for the Steelers in the 2022 season, despite purportedly entering training camp in competition for the starting job.
But Khan was quick to throw cold water one the notion that Rudolph’s time in Pittsburgh has assuredly come to a close.
“No, not at all,” Khan said. “We have a great relationship, good conversation with Mason. The door is still open.”
Khan had already expressed his desire to bring Trubisky back as Pickett’s backup, but of course, that process could be hampered by the salary cap impacts of doing so and Trubisky’s willingness to stay as Pickett’s mentor instead of pursuing another starting job.
The Steelers are also a team that has always had three quarterbacks on their roster, and are well aware of the value of depth at the game’s most important position. The Steelers have used three quarterbacks in each of their last two Super Bowl seasons.
This past playoffs, the San Francisco 49ers reminded everyone of that importance, with No. 3 quarterback Brock Purdy leading the Niners to the NFC Championship game, before his eventual injury wreck San Francisco’s playoff hopes.
If the Steelers are unable to re-sign Rudolph, Khan said the team could draft a third quarterback or search for another free agent.
“I would say all options are on the table right now,” he said. “Obviously, we have two under contract and Mason is a free agent. As you guys saw in the playoffs, it’s important to have more than two quarterbacks available.”
Rudolph has been with the Steelers since the team drafted him in third round in 2018 out of Oklahoma State. He signed a one-year contract extension for the 2022 season at $5.08 million as his rookie deal was set to expire.