The Pittsburgh Steelers have an issue in their quarterback room. The issue is that they have three quarterbacks, but not enough reps to go around. It’s the same type of problem that the team ran into in 1996 when they last had a major quarterback competition. Jim Miller, Mike Tomczak, and Kordell Stewart were all vying for the starting job. Miller and Tomczak were veterans, and Stewart was entering his second season. With not enough quarterback snaps to go around then coach Bill Cowher asked Stewart to switch to receiver.
Stewart would make the switch to receiver in 1996 and be effective in his ‘Slash’ role, but one season later Stewart would become the starting quarterback and lead Pittsburgh to the AFC Championship game. Recently Cowher joined XM Radio’s Movin’ The Chain’s to talk about the similarities between the quarterback situation of today, and the one back in 1996.
“I hate to go back to it, but let’s just go back to when Neil O’Donnell left,” Cowher said. “We sat there with you (Jim Miller) in the room and we had Kordell Stewart, and we had Mike Tomczak. We had three quarterbacks and I just remember at that time, I said, ‘Okay, we’ll try to split it up.’ If you remember at a very early time in that process, I asked Kordell to go to receiver because it was just too hard to get three quarterbacks enough reps to really legitimize, to make a very true, evaluation. So, I think that’s going to be the toughest thing for them to do.”
The Steelers selected Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He is currently buried on the depth chart as the #3 behind Mason Rudolph who currently is holding onto the #2 slot. Mitchell Trubisky seems to be firmly positioned as the starter for the time being. That means that Rudolph stands between the Steelers being able to get Pickett reps to help develop him. And with Pickett being a bit older than most rookies at 24 the Steelers don’t want to waste any time before they get him onto the field.
Pickett can’t play wide receiver like Stewart. But the team can, and sounds willing to trade Rudolph to slim the competition down to just 2. Tuesday on 93.7 The Fan, Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Ray Fittipaldo said that the team is willing to trade Rudolph for at minimum a fifth round selection as it stands today.
“They’re probably waiting for a fifth,” Fittipaldo continued. “But I think if the middle of August, end of August rolls around and they’re not getting those types of offers I think they would be more than happy to get a sixth round pick for him.
“I think Mason has done enough in his NFL career that some other NFL team, once their is an injury and that’s a big IF. But once there’s an injury I think he’s going to be attractive as a second or third team quarterback for another franchise. Then of course it’s what can you get for him? Is it a fifth, is it a sixth, is it a seventh, you know we’ll have to wait and see what the circumstances are for that other team but I don’t necessarily think Mason needs to have a great camp or a great preseason game to make that happen.”
Fittipaldo was then asked by host Chris Mueller that if a team offered a fourth round pick for Rudolph today would he be traded?
“I don’t think there is any doubt.”
Fittipaldo believes that if Rudolph stays onto the team into training camp that it won’t take long before he is either traded or sent down the depth chart for Pickett.
“The writing is on the wall for Mason Rudolph. Whenever it happens, it could be a week into training camp, two weeks into training camp. But eventually it’s going to be Mitch vs Kenny and we’ll find out from there. Mason is going to be involved for sure, but I think it’s only going to be for a week or two.”
With the team being able to get a fifth round selection for Joshua Dobbs recently with minimal playing experience they should be able to do the same with Rudolph. Outside of Pittsburgh he likely doesn’t have the same failed narrative that has followed him around since 2019. He’s won 5 games in the NFL. Thats a lot more than some first round picks ever win.
Another motive for the Steelers to acquire a fifth round pick in 2023 is that they don’t have one of their own.
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