On Thursday afternoon Ian Rapoport of NFL Network/NFL.com reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers are “closing in” on signing backup quarterback Mason Rudolph to a one-year contract extension.
Sources: The #Steelers are closing in on a 1-year extension with QB Mason Rudolph. Nothing done yet, but look for it soon for the Steelers’ backup. He’ll be signed through 2022.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 29, 2021
Of course, the timing is not coincidental. With the 2021 NFL Draft getting underway tonight, the Steelers would like to know a little more about where they stand in 2022 in regard to their quarterback situation.
For all intents and purposes, the Steelers don’t have a quarterback—any quarterback—under contract for 2022, and if that situation remains unchanged as the draft gets underway it probably makes it more likely that the organization drafts one early.
That dovetails with some of the reporting that has emerged today, with Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saying it would not be a surprise if the Steelers select a quarterback at No. 24, assuming one of the top prospects falls to them and Alabama running back Najee Harris is already off the board. (The latter is a distinct possibility, as he’s already been closely linked to the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, who are selecting at No. 18 and No. 23, respectively).
On the other hand, if the Steelers have Rudolph under contract for one more year, it probably makes it more likely that the team will bypass the position entirely in favor of more urgent needs like running back and center.
The Rest of Pittsburgh’s Quarterback Room
The expectation is that 2021 will be Ben Roethlisberger’s last year, as his new contract (which was signed in early March and contains voidable years) voids five days after the 2022 Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, former Washington first-round pick turned reclamation project Dwayne Haskins is on a one-year deal, but he will be a restricted free agent in 2022, so it’s likely that the Steelers will be able to retain him for at least another year (assuming they want to).
Third- (or fourth-) string quarterback Josh Dobbs is also on a one-year contract, while last year’s fourth-stringer Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges is now with the Los Angeles Rams.
Mason Rudolph’s NFL Experience To Date
As for Rudolph, he is entering the last year of the four-year contract he signed after being drafted by the Steelers in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma State. According to overthecap.com, he is currently slated to earn a salary of $1,014,801 in 2021 and count $1,247,867 against the salary cap.
During his first three years in Pittsburgh, Rudolph appeared in a total of 15 regular-season games with nine starts (5-4 record). He has completed 201 of 326 passes (61.7%) for 2,089 yards with 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a career passer rating of 82.7.
For his part, Rudolph has said he is “confident” he will be a starting quarterback at some point in the future. Many other NFL observers aren’t so sure, and Pro Football Focus has referred to him as ‘Captain Checkdown.’
Rudolph has also been compared to former Steelers QB Neil O’Donnell, a third-round pick who amassed a 39-22 record as a starter for the Steelers and led the team to Super Bowl XXX. In other words, a guy who might be able to serve as a stopgap starting quarterback, but not what you are looking for in terms of a long-term answer at the position.
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