4 reasons the Steelers are comfortable with Rudolph starting in 2021
By Andrew Falce
After having a career game against the Browns, Steelers QB Mason Rudolph should be the favorite to start in 2021 if Ben Roethlisberger retires.
Expectations were low for Mason Rudolph as he prepared to face the Browns this past week. The Steelers were sitting four of their key starters while injury, illness, and rest meant plenty of other starters saw limited playing time. While the team ultimately lost their game, Rudolph looked very good as a starter despite the difficult situation.
With so many questions surrounding the quarterback position going into the future, here are the four reasons that the Steelers should be comfortable with Rudolph as a starter.
No cap obligations
Rudolph starting next year is entirely predicated on Ben Roethlisberger retiring in the offseason. This would add some major questions to this offense, but losing Roethlisberger from a financial standpoint would be a different story. With the cap likely to be an issue for the team next year, having Rudolph over Roethlisberger for the cap relief would be nice.
As many know, due to the team restructuring his deal last offseason, Roethlisberger has a cap hit of 41.25 million dollars next year. If he were to decide to retire, the Steelers would save just over 27 million dollars from that number. Yes, his cap hit would still be over 22 million despite not being on the roster, but it would be almost halved from what it is scheduled to be. Meanwhile, Rudolph is set to be in the final year of his rookie deal, and even if Roethlisberger remains with the team, he will still have a cap hit of 1.2 million.
Now, this in no way means the Steelers will or should cut Roethlisberger. Losing a franchise quarterback is never the best-case scenario, especially if the primary reason is for cap relief. That said, with his obvious regression, this playoff run could easily be Roethlisberger’s last. Rudolph has little money invested in him, and the team should view that favorably if they have to count on starting him next year.