AP Photo/Kirk Irwin
With Ben Roethlisberger almost certain to retire after the 2021 season, backup Mason Rudolph says he’s hopeful he will take over the reins in 2022.
“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working toward that goal every single day,” Rudolph told reporters Tuesday. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind.
“I’m not worried about ’22 or anything like that. I’m trying to live in the moment and be the best I can for my team.”
Rudolph has served as a backup to Roethlisberger since being taken in the third round of the 2018 nfl draft. He started eight games in 2019 and one game last season in place of an injured Roethlisberger, but so far he hasn’t shown that he’s the team’s best long-term option.
The Oklahoma State product has thrown for 2,089 yards and 15 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 career appearances overall. Pittsburgh gave him a relative vote of confidence in deciding not to use a draft pick on a quarterback in the 2021 nfl draft.
However, the Steelers signed 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins as a potential developmental talent late last season. It’s likely Rudolph will go into training camp competing with Haskins and Josh Dobbs for the backup role behind Roethlisberger.
The 2021 season is something of a last hurrah for the Steelers, who have a veteran-laden roster that will need major adjustments in the post-Roethlisberger era. Much of Pittsburgh’s offseason maneuvering consisted of pushing its salary cap constraints down the road another year to compete this season.
The Steelers may find themselves in a situation similar to the one faced by the New Orleans Saints this offseason amid Drew Brees’ retirement.