Why Steelers should keep quarterback Mason Rudolph


Steelers fans are not enamored with backup quarterback Mason Rudolph, whom they booed after he fumbled on his first snap in the first preseason game. However, the team should keep the five-year veteran now that the trade market for a backup quarterback has been set and it is clear the Steelers’ offensive line is woeful.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, gave the O-line a “well-deserved” berating following Saturday’s preseason win at Jacksonville. The Steelers may need Rudolph as an insurance policy behind presumptive starter Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett.

On Monday, Las Vegas dealt backup quarterback Nick Mullens to Minnesota for a conditional seventh-round pick, setting the trade market. Mullens was the odd man out in the Raiders’ quarterback room with Derek Carr entrenched as the starter and Jarrett Stidham filling the backup role. Mullens has spent time in San Francisco and Cleveland, starting 17 games in his four-year career. 

Like Rudolph, Mullens has not stood out. For his career, he has 64.6 percent completion percentage, 26 touchdowns, 22 interceptions and 243.1 yards per game passing. He has a 5-12 record, primarily in starts in 2018 and 2020 with depleted San Francisco teams. Mullens is a functional backup quarterback capable of performing well for short stretches.  

Rudolph has a 5-4-1 record in 10 career starts, eight in 2019 alone. In those games, he has thrown 16 touchdowns to 11 picks, completed 61.5 percent of his passes and averaged 139.2 passing yards per game. He surely would not bring more than a seventh-round pick in a trade.

After the game in Jacksonville, Tomlin praised Rudolph’s play in the second half, telling reporters that he “looked like a varsity guy in a JV game.” Tomlin compared this quarterback room to the years when Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch backed up Ben Roethlisberger. Bottom line: It’s not worth dealing Rudolph for a draft pick in the 200s.