Even though the Steelers used a first-round pick on the replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, Pickett apparently won’t be taking Roethlisberger’s place right away.
Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com, in assessing the various offensive players currently on the team, expresses a belief that “it’s difficult to imagine a scenario” in which Mitch Trubisky doesn’t begin the season as the starter — barring injury or horrendous performances in camp or the preseason.
Kaboly adds that Pickett received third-string reps in OTAs. Barring extensive first-string reps in camp and preseason games, it won’t be easy for the rookie to be ready to go right out of the gates.
Some believe that Trubisky’s incentive package, largely tied to playing time, will become a disincentive for the Steelers to play him. Via Spotrac.com, it starts at 60 percent ($1 million incentive plus a $1 million roster bonus in 2023), increases at 70 percent ($1.5 million plus $4 million 2023 roster bonus), and bumps up again at 80 percent ($2 million plus $4 million 2023 roster bonus). With a playoff berth, the 70-percent incentive moves to $2.5 million, and the 80-percent incentive increases to $4 million.
So that’s up to $8 million that Trubisky can earn if he takes at least 80 percent and the Steelers make the playoffs. That’s not called a disincentive to start Trubisky. That’s called money well spent.
Trubisky’s base rate is very low, at an average of $7.1425 million per year. That’s peanuts for a veteran starter. If he plays a lot and leads the team to the playoffs, getting another $8 million is nothing.
As to Pickett, remember this — Roethlisberger wasn’t the Week One starter in 2004. He played only after Tommy Maddox suffered an injury. And Hall of Famer Alan Faneca wasn’t thrilled about it.
As to Trubisky, it’s unclear what his potential really is because he never properly meshed with coach Matt Nagy, who took over in Trubisky’s second season. Trubisky nevertheless started for a team that went to the playoffs in two of four season, thanks in large part to a great defense. That’s precisely what he’ll have in Pittsburgh. With a good complement of weapons around him, Trubisky could be a pleasant surprise in 2022 for the Steelers.