Head Coach Mike Tomlin Gives Early Update on Pittsburgh Steelers’ Quarterback Competition

by Bryan Fyalkowski

The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger has left the Pittsburgh Steelers without a clear-cut starting quarterback for the first time since 2004.

Mason Rudolph has been Roethlisberger’s backup for four years since Pittsburgh selected him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Steelers signed former Chicago Bears’ No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky this offseason as a free agent. But then the team picked Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett 20th overall in April’s draft.

Head coach Mike Tomlin spoke about the three-man position battle as the team’s training camp began this week in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

“I’ll say this because that’s the elephant in the room: We’re not going to micromanage or overmanage this quarterback competition,” Tomlin said. “The depth chart will not rest on every throw, we’re going to be a little more steady than that. I think it’s important, from a leadership standpoint, to not overmanage it, to not be too impulsive. That’s what I relayed to those guys, and our actions will continue to display that mindset.”

Throughout summer workouts, there appeared to be a clear pecking order of Trubisky-Rudolph-Pickett. And that seems to have continued into training camp. Although the quarterback battle will be a top concern for the Steelers for the next month, Tomlin is not rushing to a decision.

Tomlin is entering his 16th season as Pittsburgh’s head coach. He has never known a primary starter other than Roethlisberger, who started 207-of-241 games during Tomlin’s tenure.

“It’s scary because it’s the unknown,” Tomlin shared. “We’re venturing to a territory we haven’t been here in a long time from a quarterback perspective, at least for me personally. But it’s exciting also.”

Former Quarterback Says He Felt Forced Out By Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger recently told Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that newly-retired Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert wanted him out a year ago. He says Tomlin was ready to move on as well.

As it would turn out, team owner Art Rooney II wanted one final ride with Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. And so, Roethlisberger played out his final season with the Steelers in 2021.

“It was mostly Kevin. He was ready to move on,” he said. “I think Mike was a little ready to move on, but I think he was OK with me coming back. I think Mr. Rooney really wanted me to come back last year to play.”