2023 Steelers Exit Interviews: Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph
The Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2024.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, and the fact I have done these articles in the past, we thought we would do the same here at Steel Curtain Network. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin has previously stated he starts his interviews with rookies and those heading into free agency, we will attempt to do the same to some degree. To start, we will pair the most recent draftees with another player at the same position (if possible) as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
Next up are quarterbacks Kenny Pickett and Mason Rudolph.
Years with the Steelers: 2
Years in the NFL: 2
Contract Status: Signed through 2025 with a potential 5th-year option
Contract Details: $3,836,701 salary cap hit for 2024. Would cost the Steelers $8,312,852 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2023: 12 regular season
Games started in 2023: 12 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 670 (offense)
PFF score: 70.6 (25th of 38)
Notable stats: Pickett passed for 2,070 yards from 201 completions on 324 attempts with 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Pickett also rushed for 54 yards on 42 attempts and one touchdown.
Notes: Kenny Pickett had a tumultuous second season in the NFL where many of his numbers stayed the same from his rookie season as he battled through several injuries. Starting the same number of games both seasons, Pickett also had the same record as a starter both seasons. One place where Pickett came up short was in a touchdown department having only 6 in 12 games. But when it came to avoiding the negative, Pickett only threw four interceptions in his 324 pass attempts. While the Steelers didn’t have the offensive output with Pickett at quarterback, outside of the one full game he played after Matt Canada had been let go, the biggest thing Pickett brought to the table was pulling out close games at the end. In games that Pickett started and was able to finish because he did not leave due to injury, the Steelers record was 7–2. Exactly where the Steelers go next year in regards to the quarterback position is open for debate, but Kenny Pickett will continue to be in the mix. The biggest question is if he will have more success with a new offensive coordinator.
Years with the Steelers: 6
Years in the NFL: 6
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with no dead money.
Games played in 2023: 4 regular season
Games started in 2023: 3 regular season
Snaps (regular season): 199 (offense)
PFF score: 64.8 (DNQ for ranking)
Notable stats: During the regular season, Rudolph passed for 719 yards from 55 completions on 74 attempts with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. Rudolph also rushed for 8 yards on 10 attempts.
Notes: One of the biggest things Steelers fans need to remember is Mason Rudolph is a free agent. While the Steelers said they would like to bring him back and Rudolph has expressed interest in returning as well, it is a curious dynamic as to how things would go forward at the starting back position if it is Rudolph and Pickett who are going to be battling. Additionally, the Steelers could look to continue to upgrade the position as part of the competition. While the Steelers could sign Rudolph at any time because he’s technically not a free agent until the beginning of the league year, it would likely be in his best interest to explore his options. While Rudolph did have the advantage of not taking the field this past season with Matt Canada as the offensive coordinator, he is another player who would be intriguing with a new OC. The biggest question is if the two sides can come to a deal that makes sense.
Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews. If you have missed any of the previous articles, they are listed here:
Broderick Jones & Chuks Okorafor
Joey Porter Jr. & Levi Wallace
Keeanu Benton & Montravius Adams
Darnell Washington & Rodney Williams
Nick Herbig & Markus Golden
Cory Trice Jr. & James Pierre
Spencer Anderson & Dylan Cook