Steelers GM gives QB Rudolph confidence

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PITTSBURGH – With Ben Roethlisberger retiring, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback job is officially on the line.

On Monday, outgoing general manager Kevin Colbert gave former backup Mason Rudolph a vote of confidence.

“If we started a season today, Mason would be our starter and we’re excited to see where it can go,” Colbert said in his annual availability with local media ahead of the NFL combination. “Mason is 5-4-1 as an NFL starter, albeit in a sort of backup role, but we’m excited to see what’s next for Mason.”

Rudolph started a game for the Steelers in 2021, an 11-hour decision after Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19 a day before the Week 9 game against the Detroit Lions. Rudolph completed 30 of 50 attempts at 242 yards with one touchdown and one interception in a game that ended in a draw. In 2019, Rudolph started eight games after Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury. It was a tumultuous season for the then second-year quarterback, concluding with him completing 62% of his attempts with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

But the Steelers invested in Rudolph’s development and hired Matt Canada as quarterbacks coach for the following season. After Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2021, the team recruited respected quarterback coach Mike Sullivan to work with the group.

“I’m confident Mason has won more games than he has lost as a starter,” Colbert said. “Where it can go, we have to see. To be an NFL starter that you can win with, you have to prove it over 16 games. I’m excited to see it, if that’s the case.”

Rudolph, who is entering his fifth year with the organization, is the only quarterback on the list currently under contract for the 2022 season, but Colbert added that he expects the team to bid former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who spent it most of 2021. as the scout team quarterback.

“We’re excited to see what Dwayne can deliver either from competition or maybe he’s evolving as a starter,” Colbert said.

But the Steelers do not stop there.

“We know we will add to the position,” Colbert said. “I can not tell you how, but at this point we are going to camp with four.”

With two quarterbacks seemingly on edge, Colbert, Art Rooney II and Mike Tomlin have discussed every possible option to add to the group. The team could pick a quarterback with their No. 20 overall pick, or it could explore the free agency and the trading market.

“The draft class of quarterbacks who are good quality available – probably not as many as there have been in recent years, but that’s what it is,” Colbert said.

The Steelers got a good look at some of those prospects at the Senior Bowl, including Liberty’s Malik Willis and North Carolina’s Sam Howell. Colbert has also kept an eye on Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett, who has a spot in the front row for his Heisman finalist season from the facilities the Steelers and Pitt share.

“This group there are good players in it,” Colbert said. “And there are good players who all have different skills. That was what was really unique about watching them compete at the Senior Bowl because the majority of them were there and they are all different. I know some of them will start quarterbacks, win quarterbacks, and that’s exciting. “

Colberts – and the team – top priority this offseason is finding a post-Roethlisberger plan as quarterback, but the Steelers must also replace Colbert. The longtime general manager is stepping down after the April NFL draft. Colbert told Tomlin and Rooney II that 2021 would be his last season as general manager in May 2021, but he could stay in the organization in a different role, he said.

“It’s time, I think, from a personal point of view, and I think it’s time from a professional point of view,” Colbert said. “We must always be open to new ways of doing things and more current ways of doing things, quite frankly. And I urge our younger scouts to push me in that regard, but the better solution may be outside the organization. We do ” I do not know, but I’m just thinking from a personal point of view, it’s definitely time, but even from a professional point of view we need to be open to trying to be at the forefront of the fight. “

To find Colberts replaces interviewer Colbert and Rooney II candidates. The first round of interviews will be conducted in early March, with the second round expected to end after the NFL draft. Tomlin is involved in the process now, but Colbert said the head coach will have an even bigger role in determining the next general manager after the draft.

So far, the Steelers have interviewed seven external candidates for the position along with two internal options in Omar Khan and Brandon Hunt.


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