Mason Rudolph expected to be somewhere else this season. He took the nameplate above his locker home with him as a souvenir after the 2022 season ended.
The quarterback, though, is back in the same building, in the same role, wearing the same jersey number.
The only thing that has changed is the location of his locker, which now temporarily has a hand-written piece of paper with his last name on it instead of a nameplate.
Rudolph entered free agency looking for a fresh start. Instead, he ended up back where it began, signing a one-year offer with the Steelers on May 17.
“Never say never in this league,” Rudolph said, via Joe Rutter of triblive.com.
Rudolph made only two starts the past three seasons and dressed for only one game last season, taking no snaps. He wanted to go somewhere with a better opportunity to play, but no other team offered that chance.
Then, the Steelers called to “check the temperature.”
“I hadn’t really thought about [returning],” Rudolph said. “I mean, I had thought about it, but I can’t say I was seriously considering it. As time went on, I was sitting there. I didn’t really want to continue to wait. It was a long wait already.
“Here, you know the offense; you know the system. I felt pretty confident I’d have gotten some opportunity at a camp with a team who didn’t draft a rookie quarterback or a team that had a guy who didn’t impress. But you’re never guaranteed anything.”
Rudolph again is the No. 3 quarterback behind Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, but he has the most experience in Matt Canada’s system. So, if nothing else, Rudolph will serve as a sounding board for Pickett.