Steelers owner Art Rooney II said on Monday that it is time for the Steelers to start winning some playoff games and one good way to make that happen would be to get better play from their quarterback.
Kenny Pickett's second season didn't see him make the kind of improvement the Steelers hoped to see and he missed four games late in the season with an ankle injury. The Steelers stuck with Mason Rudolph for Week 18 and their Wild Card loss to the Bills with Pickett active as the backup, but Rooney said on Monday that the team has not lost faith in their 2022 first-round pick.
“We still feel good about Kenny Pickett and his future,” Rooney said, via Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He knows he needs to work hard to take the next step, and we’ve talked about that.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin said after the Bills loss that the team would have competition for Pickett in 2024 and Rudolph could factor into that plan. He's out of contract, but Rooney said that the team is open to a return.
“Mason showed what we were capable of when we do get quality play at the quarterback position,” Rooney said. “We appreciate what Mason did, and we’re interested in bringing Mason back.”
The Steelers are hiring a new offensive coordinator and that will be an important part of any bid for postseason success, but the idea of running it back at quarterback while also aiming for a big jump as a team will likely strike some as an incongruous approach to next season.