Kenny Pickett denies rumors that he refused to be Steelers' No. 2 QB in win over Seahawks

Pickett will back up Mason Rudolph in Week 18 vs. the Baltimore Ravens

Kenny Pickett was inactive for the Pittsburgh Steelers' win over the Seattle Seahawks, and he wanted to make it very clear Tuesday that it wasn't his decision.

Responding to rumors that he refused to dress as Pittsburgh's No. 2 quarterback Sunday while Mason Rudolph started, Pickett told reporters that the team's trainers made the decision for him to not suit up and that he actually would've started if he had been deemed healthy.

He went on to say that he would dress for the Steelers' game Saturday and back up Rudolph against the Baltimore Ravens while complaining about attacks on his character, via ESPN's Brooke Pryor:

"I saw reports out there that I felt were attacking my character and how I am as a person, not even getting into the player standpoint of it. There was no talk of me being a backup quarterback this week in terms of being a 2. If I was healthy enough to play, and the trainers and coaches felt like I would look good enough to play, I was going to start and play. If they believed that I was not — which they believed I was not — I was not going to dress and suit up for the game.

"So, whoever reported that, I don't know where it started, it's kind of crazy what people will write and put out there to try to prove their point or help their standpoint or their careers and what you guys do, but disappointed to see that without any proof or basis of it.

"This week, I'm now the 2. They feel good, four weeks out of the surgery, for me to dress and be the 2, so I will be the 2 and do what I have to do to be ready to go for Baltimore."

Pickett underwent TightRope surgery on his right ankle in early December and hasn't played since. There had been that speculation he could return in the past couple of weeks, but he was ruled out for both games, leaving Rudolph to start.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett walks on the field during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, in Seattle. The Steelers won 30-23. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Kenny Pickett will finish the regular season by backing up Mason Rudolph. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

After Pickett was announced inactive, Mark Madden of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted, "Pickett 100 percent refused to be the backup." The Athletic's Mark Kaboly also said on a radio show that he was "very, very highly skeptical" that it was entirely Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin's decision to rule Pickett inactive.

Madden responded soon after Pickett's denial by tweeting "He's lying" and proceeded to highlight the inconsistencies of the Steelers' story about Pickett not being healthy enough to wear a uniform Sunday but then being healthy enough for Tomlin to say he was fully cleared Monday and to be a full participant in practice Tuesday.

Whatever is happening here, it's clear Pickett is facing an uncertain future in Pittsburgh. The team went 7-5 this season in games started by the former first-rounder, but his own numbers, as well as the production of the Steelers' offense, were once again uninspiring. Now, the team is ending his second season by starting the quarterback he was drafted to replace.