Ever since being selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Mason Rudolph has waited in the wings as Pittsburgh Steelers future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger continued to start under center.
Now that Big Ben has announced his retirement following a brilliant near two-decade run in Pittsburgh, Rudolph is one of the few holdovers with a chance to start in Pittsburgh next season.
Speculation has run rampant over the past couple years that Pittsburgh’s brass views Rudolph as the heir-apparent to Roethlisberger.
Fresh off the Steelers’ season coming to an end by virtue of a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs, we’re hearing more about the team’s plans under center. They apparently include Mr. Rudolph.
“Without a surefire plug-and-play quarterback in the draft, everything points toward the Steelers handing the reins to Rudolph, with Haskins having a chance to compete along with the addition of a low-level veteran in free agency and a quarterback in the draft,” Mark Kaboly of The Athletic reported on Tuesday.
A star at Oklahoma State, Rudolph has continued to be patient as he awaits his turn with the Steelers. He previously touched on a willingness to take over for Big Ben in Pittsburgh, too.
“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working toward that goal every single day,” Mason Rudolph said back in June. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind.”
However, there’s a ton of different layers to look at before coming to the conclusion that Rudolph is etched in stone as the Steelers’ Week 1 starting quarterback next season.
How Kevin Colbert’s retirement could impact Mason Rudolph
With the Steelers since 2000 (general manager since 2011), Colbert is expected to retire after the 2022 NFL Draft this coming April. The belief is that either current Steelers VP of operations Omar Khan or scouting director Brandon Hunt would replace him.
That could very well change the dynamics as it relates to Rudolph’s future with the Steelers. It’s highly unlikely the team will go after a quaterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. This iteration of the annual event is seen as incredibly weak at that position.
It also doesn’t seem likely that a veteran set to hit free agency in March would act as a marked upgrade over Rudolph under center in Pittsburgh.
- Mason Rudolph stats: 61.5% completion, 2,366 yards, 16 TD, 11 INT
Those are not great numbers. But still only 26, Rudolph has a lot of room to grow. He’s also familiar with the Steelers’ system on offense.
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One other possibility here would be for Pittsburgh to trade for a veteran quarterback. The likes of Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr could all end up being on the trade market.
This also seems unlikely given the fact that a new Steelers general manager likely wouldn’t want to trade a ton of draft pick assets as his/her first major move in that role. It would take a whole heck of a lot to add Watson, Rodgers or Wilson to the mix. As for Garoppolo and Carr, the two would likely come cheaper.