NFL insider: Kenny Pickett ‘most likely’ will be Steelers starting QB for 2023 over Mitchell Trubisky

Free-agent signing Mitchell Trubisky is clearly and officially atop the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart at the quarterback position over both career backup Mason Rudolph and first-round draft selection Kenny Pickett heading into Saturday’s preseason opener versus the Seattle Seahawks. 

How long that will remain true is anybody’s guess. 

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and others within the organization allegedly “want Trubisky to start” ahead of Rudolph at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 on Sept. 11. Pickett, meanwhile, reportedly “just isn’t close to being ready” at this point of his development, and former NFL signal-caller Ryan Leaf generated headlines this week when he said that the Steelers “may have reached for” the 24-year-old at overall choice No. 20 in this year’s draft. 

For a piece published Friday morning about quarterback situations at this time in 2023, ESPN’s Dan Graziano pointed out that multiple scenarios remain realistic as it pertains to the Steelers for both the upcoming season and the subsequent campaign. 

“Pittsburgh signed Trubisky to a two-year, $14.285 million contract, but next year’s $8 million salary is not guaranteed,” Graziano noted. “So he must show something in order to keep the job, even if he does win it and hold it all year. This is an unsettled situation, and it’s not out of the question that all three of the guys listed above play QB for the Steelers at some point this season. It’s far from guaranteed that any of them will in 2023.” 

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Graziano added that the “most likely outcome” is that Pickett is given the keys to Pittsburgh’s offense next spring. Such a scenario would mirror how the San Francisco 49ers waited until earlier this year to name 2021 rookie Trey Lance their starter over veteran Jimmy Garoppolo after Garoppolo served as their QB1 for most of last season. 

“The Steelers picked him in the first round because they think he can be their franchise quarterback, and they’re going to have to find out sooner rather than later whether they’re right,” Graziano said of Pickett. However, Graziano continued: 

“Trubisky’s mobility should help him overcome a shaky offensive line to some extent, and if he stays healthy and leads the Steelers to the playoffs, it’s not impossible that he could keep the job.”

In short: The only thing for sure this summer about who ultimately serves as the long-term successor to future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger is that nothing’s for sure. 

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