I’m not going to lie; I did not see Mason Rudolph returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers after his contract expired at the end of last season. It’s not that I haven’t been wrong before – this happens often in my world – it’s that I just didn’t see a scenario in which Rudolph would want to return. It looks like it’s going to happen however.
To go back, Rudolph was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft which pissed me off immediately. I was rather “meh” when it came to him as a professional quarterback but what forced my ire was the fact the Steelers could have used that pick almost anywhere else on the field. Then former General Manager Kevin Colbert revealed the team ‘had a first round grade’ on him so at the very least I understood why they chose him. For the record, at least two other teams reportedly had first round grades on Rudolph too which I found stunning.
Unfortunately for the former Oklahoma State signal caller, he arrived in Pittsburgh at a time when many felt Ben Roethlisberger still had some quality years ahead of him. This, along with Big Ben’s reported dismissive attitude towards the selection, led to an immediate dislike of Rudolph by the majority of the fan base. To make matters worse for Rudolph, he was forced into action sooner than he should have been when Roethlisberger’s season ended early with an elbow injury.
Oh and then there was that “whole Myles Garrett nearly taking Rudy’s head off with his own helmet” thing and then the fan base fell in love with a gritty, small school QB named “Duck.” Mason Rudolph seemingly had every, single thing working against him.
But to be brutally honest, I didn’t view him as a long-term starter in the NFL then and I still don’t. But that brings us to today. It seems quite clear to me that Rudolph found the options on the open market to be less than attractive. How could anyone come to any other conclusion? After all, if he does indeed return to Pittsburgh it will be as a third QB behind Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky.
The positive for both sides is that they have a guy who knows the offense and has some quality starts under his belt. In the event he’s called upon, the Steelers could do far worse in the situation. At the same time however, I can’t help but wonder what his overall presence brings to the Steelers’ QB room and locker room in general. Only Mike Tomlin and his players know that.
The fans however will be a drastically different story. Rudolph is obviously comfortable with that or he wouldn’t be returning. They say that the most popular player on any team is the backup QB, especially when the starter is playing poorly. But it’s only in Pittsburgh where the third-string guy can garner the kind of attention that Mason Rudolph does whether he deserves it or not.