According to reports, the Pittsburgh Steelers could consider trading quarterback Mason Rudolph before the 2022 season begins. The Steelers are expected to conduct a true competition for their starting quarterback position throughout training camp and the preseason, but that battle is expected to occur between free-agent signing Mitchell Trubisky and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett. Rudolph is an afterthought in Pittsburgh’s new-look quarterback room and his time as a Steeler may be reaching its end.
Rudolph is a high-upside backup signal-caller that would be miscast as Pittsburgh’s third quarterback. The team that acquires Rudolph would inherit his $3 million salary for the 2022 campaign (while the Steelers would incur a dead cap charge of $1.04 million), via OverTheCap. A five-year pro, Rudolph has established his place in the league via flashes of decent play.
Rudolph owns an acceptable record of 5-4-1 as a starter since entering the league as a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Rudolph would instantly provide an upgrade at backup quarterback for several franchises. We’ve swiftly identified three teams that should possess an interest in acquiring Rudolph in exchange for a day-three draft selection.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The San Francisco 49ers are still attempting to move on from in-limbo quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Offseason shoulder injury slowed down Garoppolo’s trade market, but the former Eastern Illinois standout is still expected to be traded before September arrives. Once a Garoppolo trade materializes, 49ers General Manager John Lynch must consider upgrading his backup quarterback behind starter-in-waiting Trey Lance.
Removing Garoppolo from the equation would mean the 49ers’ backup spot would come down to the least interesting training camp battle ever between Nate Sudfeld and rookie seventh-round selection Brock Purdy. Lance suffered a knee injury as a rookie that sidelined him for weeks, and his mobile and athletic style of play means the 49ers must be prepared to roster a backup with starting experience in case he spends additional time on the sidelines. Furthermore, Lance remains a raw prospect that could benefit from playing alongside a veteran backup with the experience Mason Rudolph possesses. Rudolph would represent a clear-cut upgrade over Sudfeld and Purdy.
The fate of the Chicago Bears lies in the hands of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields. A raucous fan base is expecting Fields to eventually lead their beloved Bears to the promised land. The infrastructure surrounding Fields in Chicago currently leaves plenty to be desired as newly minted Bears General Manager Ryan Poles continues building his roster of the future.
Part of ensuring that Fields’ developmental plan goes accordingly involves surrounding him with veterans that can continue aiding his acclimation to being the starting quarterback for one of the most recognizable franchises across the NFL. Mason Rudolph has plenty of experience in that department, having played in a similarly demanding market in Pittsburgh. Current Bears backups Trevor Siemian and Nathan Peterman are veterans in their own right, but not only is Rudolph a better quarterback than both Siemian and Peterman are, but he’s also better suited to mentor and prepare Fields for what’s to come. Rudolph would encounter little resistance immediately earning Chicago’s backup role.
The Detroit Lions arguably own the worst backup situation in the entire league behind starting quarterback Jared Goff. Tim Boyle and David Blough are not capable NFL quarterbacks. Boyle saw limited action due to a Goff injury last season and responded by throwing just three touchdowns and six interceptions while earning a horrid QBR rating of 26.4. An injury to Goff would completely derail Detroit’s season.
Lions General Manager Brad Holmes has done an admirable job surrounding Goff with more offensive weapons this offseason. The signing of D.J. Chark and the drafting of Jameson Williams completely transformed Detroit’s pass-catching corps. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Quntez Cephus should continue taking steps forward. D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson are healthy and ready to return to starring roles in what should be a much-improved offense. Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond offer terrific depth.
The Lions surprisingly didn’t draft a quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft, nor did they sign a more capable backup in free agency. Mason Rudolph would at least keep the Lions above water in case Goff suffered another multi-week injury.