Kenny Pickett is likely the long-term replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, but it doesn’t seem like he’ll be the Steelers’ starting quarterback to begin the season.
Rather, that title seems destined for Mitch Trubisky. According to The Athletic, “it’s difficult to imagine a scenario” in which Trubisky doesn’t start the year under center — barring injury or terrible performance in training camp.
Trubisky, a five-year NFL veteran, signed a two-year contract with the Steelers in March. The former No. 2 overall pick spent the 2021 season as Josh Allen’s backup with the Bills, after serving as the Bears’ starting quarterback for four ill-fated seasons.
Trubisky’s base salary will pay him roughly $7 million dollars this season, though he can earn up to $8 million in incentives.
The Steelers made Pickett — a first-team All-American and Heisman Trophy finalist this past season at the University of Pittsburgh — the first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL Draft, selecting the hometown product with the 20th overall pick.
So far, at least, Pickett’s development has proceeded slowly. During OTAs and minicamp, he was confined to third-string reps.
“It’s not a good indication of what the Steelers’ plan is with their first-round pick, at least early in the season,” Mark Kaboly wrote in The Athletic. “You won’t hear that from the Steelers, but getting NFL-ready with limited first-team reps in camp and three preseason games won’t track for Pickett to start anytime soon.”
Such fluidity in the quarterback room is, of course, unfamiliar territory for the Steelers as a whole. Roethlisberger held the title as QB1 for 18 seasons before retiring this offseason. Roethlisberger didn’t start his rookie season at No. 1 on the depth chart, either, first backing up Tommy Maddox.