In the NFL, things can change quickly. We’ve seen quarterbacks across the league get unexpected opportunities this season due to injuries and poor play. Mason Rudolph of the Pittsburgh Steelers took good advantage of his opportunity this past weekend.

Rudolph threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns in his first start since 2021, leading the Steelers to a 34-11 victory over the Bengals.

However, Rudolph feared he might not receive that opportunity again during the 2023 offseason. On December 27th, Rudolph announced to the media that he has updated his résumé for the first time since his freshman year at Oklahoma State.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I wanted to have a Plan B and think about a Plan B a bit,” he told me. “You spend your entire life doing one thing with your head down and saying, ‘I’m not going to think about it.'” I had a little time to chat to my family about what I could be interested in, and I was still certain that I would receive an opportunity elsewhere…”

DEAL: Mason Rudolph made wisest choice ever to re-sign with Steelers on two year contract
DEAL: Mason Rudolph made wisest choice ever to re-sign with Steelers on two year contract

Fortunately for the Steelers, they were the team that gave him that opportunity, and he is now directing their final playoff push.

Why Another Year in Pittsburgh Wasn’t a Foregone Conclusion

When the Steelers selected Rudolph in the third round in 2018, he was anticipated to stay on the team’s roster for a while and possibly develop into a starter to take over once Ben Roethlisberger retired.

His moment under center came earlier than expected. During Week 2 of his second season, Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury.

Rudolph finished with a 5-3 record as the starter, although his performances were uneven, and he was benched in Week 12 in favor of Devlin Hodges.

Despite the team’s struggles at the quarterback position, Rudolph never touched the field in 2022 after a number of years of making spot starts.

He even received encouragement from great receiver Diontae Johnson, but he never saw the field.

Many assumed the Steelers would let him go during the offseason because the top two quarterback spots on their depth chart were already filled. Instead, they re-signed him to a one-year contract paying slightly more than $1 million.

Rudolph may not need to update his resume again the following offseason.
Rudolph currently has an opportunity to earn a position behind the current season. He is already set to start for the Steelers against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 17.

If he turns in another strong performance, the Steelers will almost certainly keep him until the end of the season.

Regardless of how the next several months unfold, it appears improbable that Mitch Trubisky will be on the team’s roster in 2024. He has not performed well in either of his two seasons with the organization, was just benched again, and the team can save just under $3 million in cap space if he is released after this season.

That would free up a roster place for Rudolph if he performs well over the next few weeks.

Then he could spend next offseason competing with Kenny Pickett for the starter job instead of contemplating a career in commercial real estate.

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