Steelers Rumors: Latest on Kenny Pickett vs. Mitchell Trubisky QB Battle at Minicamp

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 15, 2022

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) performs drills during an NFL football practice at rookie minicamp, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly preparing for an open competition between free-agent signing Mitchell Trubisky and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett for their starting quarterback job when training camp gets underway.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the latest details on the race to replace Ben Roethlisberger, who retired in January, during an appearance Sunday on SportsCenter:

"I'm told the Steelers are playing no favorites. Mitchell Trubisky, I know he is very excited for this battle. I'm told he cannot wait to compete with Kenny Pickett and company. But Pickett in two days at minicamp, I'm told he looked poised, confident, all the things they knew they had in him when they watched him at Pitt in the next-door facility, basically. So, they feel good about it, but they're going to play this out in the long game. Nothing determined yet."

Trubisky endured an up-and-down four-year tenure as the Chicago Bears starter after being selected with the second overall pick in 2017.

The UNC product connected on 64.1 percent of his attempts with 64 touchdowns and 37 interceptions across 51 appearances (50 starts). He added eight rushing scores while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.

He spent last season serving as the backup to Josh Allen with the Buffalo Bills. In February, he told Fowler playing behind one of the NFL's best quarterbacks in one of the league's most explosive systems was a great experience.

"Going to Buffalo really opened my eyes," Trubisky said. "After being in Chicago for four years, there was only one way I knew how to do things. [Being] in Buffalo and [having] a different way of doing things, you learn what's possible. It helped me get back to instinctual football and using my talents rather than overthinking."

Now 27, he'll be eager to win the starting job in Pittsburgh because there's no guarantee he'll ever get the opportunity again.

Pickett was the most NFL-ready signal-caller in this year's draft class, which is likely a key reason why the Steelers took him over the likes of Malik Willis and Matt Corral at No. 20 overall.

Being a Pitt product, he doesn't even have to change stadiums since the Steelers and Panthers share Heinz Field, and he's coming off a terrific senior season.

The 23-year-old New Jersey native posted a 67.2 percent completion rate for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 13 games.

His numbers were far more modest over his first four college seasons (39 TDs, 25 INTs in 39 games), so the Steelers are hoping he made a significant leap in his development.

Unless Pickett dominates throughout training camp and the preseason, the most likely outcome is Trubisky opening the regular season as the starter so Pittsburgh can see whether it can yield value from its two-year, $14.3 million investment.

If Trubisky plays well, 2022 can be a full development year for Pickett. If the veteran struggles, the rookie may take over quite early in the campaign.