Steelers Mason Rudolph extension is a win-win for the team

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2). Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2). Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers surprisingly inked Mason Rudolph to a small contract extension right before the draft, and it was undoubtedly a great deal.

While many may cringe at the idea of Mason Rudolph being the Steelers starting quarterback, his recent contract extension seems to indicate that he will be the guy, at least initially, in 2022. To his credit, Rudolph seemed to play leaps and bounds better in his lone start last season than he did in 2019. While that may not be enough to christen him as the franchise option after Ben Roethlisberger, his new deal is a huge win.

For starters, looking purely at the financials of the deal, the Steelers have very little at risk. The deal gives him about a million extra dollars this season in the form of a bonus and he has a cap hit of just over four million in 2022. Neither of those numbers are earth-shattering, and even if Rudolph only serves as a backup, those numbers are well in line with what a decent backup quarterback can expect to make.

Tyrod Taylor got 5.5 million a season as a backup while even the likes of a decrepit Joe Flacco got 3.5 million a year. Rudolph’s meager five million total (between the signing bonus and new money added) is great in comparison to those deals. Neither Flacco nor Taylor are expected to be the guy, meaning those teams are comfortable paying a pure backup that money. Rudolph, on the other hand, will likely be given the first crack at being the top quarterback, making the money he is getting a bargain.

Frankly, I would compare this deal more to Andy Dalton. The former Cowboy and Bengal inked a one-year deal with the Bears for $10 million dollars. The expectation was that he would start in case a franchise option couldn’t be secured. Rudolph is likely in a similar situation, as the Steelers will definitely add to the room next year, but he has the veteran experience to be the starter if need be.

The Steelers will need experience at quarterback in 2021

Considering the value is good for the deal, keeping an experienced body around will give the team flexibility. Dwayne Haskins will be a restricted free agent and assuming he makes the roster would likely return next season. This gives the team two potential starters that have been on the team for at least a season.

This also doesn’t inhibit the Steelers from drafting a quarterback. While there is still a lot to be learned about the 2022 quarterback draft class, there is a good chance the team will be targeting a quarterback. The issue is this team isn’t set to tank and get a top ten pick. This makes the prospect of landing a top quarterback more of an issue. The team could get aggressive and move up, but having Rudolph around means they won’t have to.

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There is essentially no risk with this deal. Rudolph returns as the likely starter in 2022, and if a rookie beats him out, he becomes a fairly paid backup for a season. The flexibility his new deal brings is that the team won’t be forced one way or another in 2022. If worse comes to worst, his deal is one that can easily be cut. No matter what you think about Rudolph’s chances at being a franchise quarterback, his new deal was an easy win for the Steelers.