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Report: “Internal division” over whether Kenny Pickett or Mason Rudolph should start for Steelers

The Steelers don’t have a clear-cut No. 1 quarterback. And they apparently don’t have a clear-cut vision within the building about who the No. 1 quarterback should be.

As explained by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “there appears to be some internal division that maybe Mason Rudolph should be the starter,” given his performance at the end of the season.

Of course, Kenny Pickett was drafted in the first round two years ago, with the idea that he’d be the heir to Ben Roethlisberger. After Pickett suffered a late-season ankle injury, however, Rudolph emerged — and the Steelers low-key benched Pickett for the veteran who had become buried on the depth chart and largely forgotten.

Rudolph is due to become a free agent next month. It’s not a given he’ll return to Pittsburgh. Where else, however, would he get a chance to be the starter?

Dulac also reports that the Steelers “are not interested in bringing in a quarterback who wants to be a starter.” Earlier this month, team president Art Rooney II didn’t rule it out.

Why wouldn’t they explore available alternatives to Pickett and Rudolph? Neither has done anything spectacular, frankly. Neither can compare to Kirk Cousins (who will be a free agent), Justin Fields (who could be available via trade), Ryan Tannehill (who will be a free agent), and Russell Wilson (who likely will be released and might take a veteran-minimum deal, since Denver owes him $39 million for 2024).

The Steelers are set in their ways, and they’re proud of it. They get comfortable with certain players and coaches, and they don’t like to change. That’s fine, but there are moments where it makes no sense.

As to the quarterback position, it makes no sense to flatly say “no thanks” when a potentially significant upgrade at the most important position on an NFL team is available.

That’s not to say the 2024 Steelers will fail. With coach Mike Tomlin in place, they’ll likely be on the right side of .500 — and they’ll have a great chance to make the playoffs. Without a quarterback who can deliver in the clutch during postseason games, however, it will be lather, rinse, repeat for a Steelers team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2016 season.

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