Pittsburgh Steelers Sign QB Mitchell Trubisky

Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky
Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Great news, Pittsburgh Steelers fans: Mason Rudolph will not be your starting quarterback in 2022!

Bad news, Pittsburgh Steelers fans: Mitchell Trubisky will be your starting quarterback in 2022!  NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports that the Steelers have signed Trubisky to a two-year contract.

You probably know the Tale of Trubisky by now. He started 50 games over four seasons for the Chicago Bears, who traded up to select him second overall in the 2017 draft. (Internet law requires us to mention that both Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were still on the board). Trubisky briefly looked like a rising star in 2018 if you did not look too closely, with 24 touchdowns and acceptable DVOA (19th) and DYAR (17th) rankings for a Bears team that won 11 games. But Trubisky’s limitations as a passer and decision maker soon caught up with him: he ranked 27th in DVOA in 2019 and 24th in 2020, when the Bears braintrust of Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace lost faith in him before losing faith in each other and themselves.

Trubisky spent last season backing up Josh Allen for the Buffalo Bills and watching as the 2022 quarterback rookie class failed to impress anyone while Ben Roethlisberger crumbled into a heap of dust like a vampire at sunrise every Sunday. With few other appealing options for teams that were in no position to swing a Russell Wilson-type blockbuster, NFL decision makers spent the last month talking Trubisky up as a viable “second chance” starter in an attempt to convince themselves and a skeptical nation. And here we are. 

The Steelers will likely hold a nominal quarterback competition between Trubisky and longtime Roethlisbackup Rudolph, with Dwayne Haskins also receiving some lip service. Realistically, the job will be Trubisky’s to lose. 

Trubisky’s arrival addresses the Steelers’ biggest need, which is not quite the same thing as filling that need. The Steelers must now repair their offensive line and reinforce the middle of their defense. 

It’s easy to be skeptical about this signing, but: a) the two-year deal means that the Steelers aren’t making any long-term commitments; and b) at least they didn’t trade for Carson Wentz. The Steelers can reset quickly if Trubisky picks up where he left off in 2019 and 2020.

Overall Mitchell Trubisky impact: With his ability to throw more than 30 yards without a Bugs Bunny windup and run three steps without his lumbago acting up, Trubisky is a likely upgrade over the mummified remains of Roethlisberger that shambled onto the field last year. The Steelers are probably hoping to be competitive as a defense-and-YAC team again in 2022. That’s certainly possible, but the rest of the AFC North won’t do them any favors. At best, Trubisky could anchor the Steelers around .500.

Fantasy Mitchell Trubisky impact: Trubisky nerfed Allen Robinson statistically. Try not to think of what he could do to Chase Claypool. 

Comments

30 comments, Last at 17 Mar 2022, 6:28pm

1 The Colts are basically the…

The Colts are basically the Steelers except they wasted a first rounder on Wentz instead of a first rounder on a running back.

Trubisky has a 10 percent shot at a career rebound. Otherwise slating him as your starter is a lesson in opportunity cost. As weird as it sounds, you are better off hunting for the next Tom Brady, even if he's more likely to end up as the next Gardner Mineshew, than you are playing Mitch.

The Steelers, like the Colts, are trapped in a weird roster situation, though the Steelers are a year closer to the detonation rebuild point.

5 The AFC North is decided…

The AFC North is decided flux-y, where Baltimore has competent management but an injury apocalypse problem, where the Browns remains the Brownsy-est, and where Mike Brown is still cheap. They could absolutely win the division and even a wild-card buys you a ticket to a high-variance single-elimination bracket.

There's also nothing in the deal that precludes also drafting a QB and seeing if your Wilson can unseat your Flynn.

7 Colbert was quite clear

Colbert said they would look to add competition to the QB room with both a veteran acq and in the draft. I think this sets the stage for them not to try to move up to acquire Wallis, but if a guy they like falls, wouldn't surprise me if they draft him as early as the first round.

But I disagree with Mike, pending the draft outcome, I think there will be a real competition and the job is NOT Mitch's to lose. Mason is not his rival for QB physique and athleticism, but he's got experience in the Steelers system and has the faith of at least some of the players currently on the team. Mitch isn't the guy that's going to come in and immediately win those guys over, he'll have to prove himself. Having said that, if that year off in Buffalo did lead to actual substantial improvement in decision making and processing, he will likely beat Mason out. I put the odds at 50-50 on either as opening day starter. With closer to 99% odds that each starts at least one game this year, and at least 10% odds that Josh Dobbs or Haskins also "earn" a start, given Tomlin's yo-yo-ing in 2019... Again, pending the draft outcome. 

 

9 Trubisky has a 10 percent…

Trubisky has a 10 percent shot at a career rebound. Otherwise slating him as your starter is a lesson in opportunity cost. As weird as it sounds, you are better off hunting for the next Tom Brady,

Huh? Your chance of finding the next Tom Brady is waaaay lower than 10 percent. How do these two work together?

11 I don't understand what you…

I don't understand what you're suggesting by "hunt for Tom Brady." As in, the Steelers should... hunt through late-round draft picks? They'd need years of those before they were likely to get someone with higher chance of career success than Trubisky actually has. And grabbing Trubisky doesn't preclude doing that - you don't draft a late round pick expecting them to be able to start week 1.

17 Assuming this is a wasted…

Assuming this is a wasted season ( ie - no first round QB), then the choice boils down to alternatives. Am I better off going with a better, but not good enough option with a long enough track record at this point to know what he is vs rolling the dice on a gamble that could pay off? Unless I was worried about my job security, I would take the latter.

12 You need a lot of picks. As…

You need a lot of picks. As much as we laugh about Trubisky, he has actually been worth a top-10 draft pick, and he's already a 75th percentile QB by career success in his era. (We churn through a lot of QBs)

You find the occasion steal late -- they do exist. But finding them is almost purely luck and they still probably need the right combination of accidental opportunity and success-fostering environment to make it.

15   You find the occasion…

 

You find the occasion steal late -- they do exist. But finding them is almost purely luck and they still probably need the right combination of accidental opportunity and success-fostering environment to make it.

Really, that's the only issue I have with them snagging Trubisky. I wouldn't super-hate like, signing Andy Dalton or something. He's a very senior QB in the league and so I could absolutely see an argument for "brings veteran leadership" blah blah blah that's actually "look, we hate all these draft guys and we need someone who can throw the ball." Winston or Bridgewater would be the same thing (if it were me I'd go after Bridgewater just because of Winston's injury).

Trubisky had one year as Allen's backup and... played in Chicago, which is like, a step down from being a backup. I'm hoping that this is like a $5M/yr deal with minimal bonuses and it's more of a tryout than anything else.

2 Good for Trubisky. I still…

Good for Trubisky. I still think that he could be a top 15-20 QB in the league, and I think the Steelers are a place where it could happen. Unless there's something shocking about the contract, the Steelers can still move on from him after a year or two if it makes sense to.

3 The Steelers have been…

The Steelers have been unwatchable for a few years already. 

This will not change anything. 

They are aiming for a 9-8 snoozefest and a playoff appearance. 

NHALS here we come!

Edit:

But anything is better than trotting Mason out there for a whole season. 

 

24 Alternatives

They are aiming for a 9-8 snoozefest and a playoff appearance. 

I'll take that over a 7-10 snoozefest and a first round draft pick too late to get a franchise QB.

 

4 Lol

Kill me now. Only thing worse than Trubisky truthers are Minshew ones

8   Fantasy Mitchell Trubisky…

 

Fantasy Mitchell Trubisky impact: Trubisky nerfed Allen Robinson statistically.

Oh, c'mon, the Bears nerfed Robinson. In the weeks Trubisky started in '20 (weeks 1-3 and 11-16) he put up 80 yards/game, or a ~1300 yard pace, or really close to what he put up in Jacksonville his best year (1400 yds). In the weeks Trubisky didn't start, he put up 75 yards/game (this isn't an endorsement of Trubisky, this is comparing him to freaking Nick Foles and Blake Bortles).

Now, if you want QBs who really nerfed Robinson... well, that'd be last years' Bears QBs.

I don't really have any hopes for Trubisky as a starter (he's a perfectly reasonable backup - see above Bortles/Foles comparison) but it'll be really interesting to see him out of the QB hell of Chicago if he does keep that starting job. As fun as it is to make fun of him, he's still one of the best Bears QBs of the past 25 years. Can't underestimate how bad that organization's been.

14 Yeah, I refrained from…

Yeah, I refrained from commenting on that line because I know it was more to make a humorous point than to seriously argue that Trubisky was at fault for Robinson's decrease in production, but by that logic you'd rather have Trubisky as your QB than Fields because of how much worse Robinson was in 2021 than 2020. Bottom line, the Bears offense continued to be a dumpster fire under Nagy.

Too many people interpret disappointment with Trubisky's value for a traded-up #2 overall pick (terrible) as him being a laughably bad QB who shouldn't be in the league at all. Even his worst years, if you want to put 100% of the blame for those on him and none on Nagy, had him as 25th-30th in the league...a bad starter/good backup but unquestionably worthy of a roster spot somewhere. He's not Nathan Peterman.

Now if Pittburgh gave him $50M fully guaranteed or something ridiculous, it's an overpay, but assuming the money/commitment make sense you could do far worse than 1-2 years of Trubisky while you keep your options open to acquire a rookie with an upside likely to be higher.

16 numbers

they haven't released the numbers, last I looked. I am VERY much hoping the contract is reasonable, i.e. a discount for best possible scenario for Trubisky to resurrect. I mean, as a fan I have very low expectations this post-Roethlisberger year, and eventually there HAS to be a falloff from perennial wildcard contender status, but the mutual history of not completely sucking may mean Trubisky has found his pathway to reclamation.

(He's a Steeler now, I am obligated to root for him until he melts down with marijuana tweets [holmes], leaves the field before the end of the game [blount] or throws a ball in practice in anger at the QB [brown {oh wait...}])

19 Apparently it's $7M/yr (so …

In reply to by NYChem

Apparently it's $7M/yr (so $14M base). Which I really should've stuck my neck out and said above, because I was figuring $5M/yr would be a great deal for the Steelers and $10M/yr would be a great deal for Trubisky... and this pretty much splits it down the middle. Little high (but not much) for a backup, but way cheap for a starter.

Still would've gone after Bridgewater, but we'll have to see what that contract looks like. Talent-wise Winston's the best option, but the ACL is just a killer.

21 Honestly, I think that's a…

Honestly, I think that's a great contract for Pittsburgh. To put it into perspective, the Bears are paying Nick Foles $8M/year (and they traded a 4th round pick to get him) to be a pure backup who won't see the field unless Justin Fields gets hurt. And last year Foles was actually 3rd string because they had given Andy Dalton $10M to be the kind of bridge QB that Trubisky seems to be in Pittsburgh (with the difference being that Pittsburgh probably doesn't trade up in the 1st round to draft a QB this season).

Of course, any team looks smart compared to the Bears when it comes to the QB position.

Bottom line, $7M/year is decent value even if they draft a QB this year or next who surpasses Trubisky and he's just one of the best backups in the league. If he starts from them and actually improves from what he was with the Bears, it's fantastic value. And they're not making a commitment to him that precludes them from looking for someone better this year or next.

27 Of course, any team looks…

Of course, any team looks smart compared to the Bears when it comes to the QB position.

Yeah, saying "at least they weren't as dumb as the Bears!" isn't gonna sell me on the value of the contract. It's a completely reasonable contract, but I wouldn't call it "great." It's totally in line with other "we don't think you're a viable starter, but we don't have any other options and at least you can be a good backup" deals. In other words... it's fine.

Bridgewater at "up to" $10M/yr is a way better value, he's been remarkably consistently average for 3 different teams in 3 years. Trubisky looks more like a step below that.

But it's hard to criticize the Steelers there since they would've had to offer more to Bridgewater. I still would've, but... who knows, maybe he doesn't like Pittsburgh.

20 "With his ability to throw…

"With his ability to throw more than 30 yards without a Bugs Bunny windup and run three steps without his lumbago acting up, Trubisky is a likely upgrade over the mummified remains of Roethlisberger that shambled onto the field last year."

Roethlisberger was still 24th in DYAR and 25th in DVOA last season. Not very good, but as this article pointed out, Trubisky has only really done better than that in one season, back in 2018.