The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly planning to keep rookie Kenny Pickett in a backup role behind starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky for the entire 2022 NFL season, according to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports (h/t NFL reporter Dov Kleiman).
The pair had engaged in a quarterback battle during training camp and the preseason, with the veteran Trubisky remaining atop the depth chart.
That followed a report from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport earlier on Sunday that Trubisky would have a "long leash" this season:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From <a href="https://twitter.com/NFLGameDay?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFLGameDay</a>: The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Steelers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Steelers</a> will give QB Mitch Trubisky a long look as the starter, a role he’s earned. It’ll be Kenny Pickett’s team, just not right now. <a href="https://t.co/N5CMS1jMqF">pic.twitter.com/N5CMS1jMqF</a>
With Ben Roethlisberger retiring after the 2021 campaign, the Steelers made aggressive moves to replace him, signing Trubisky to a two-year deal worth up to $27 million and drafting Pickett with the No. 20 overall pick.
Trubisky didn't sign with the Steelers to serve as a backup.
"My goal throughout free agency was find a way to get back on the field and going into a situation where I could win a starting job and use my talents on the field," he told reporters in March.
"I'm in a situation where I have to prove myself back on the field," he added. "That's what I'm looking forward to doing. You're always betting on yourself in that sense, and I definitely am in this case. You've got to bet on yourself and trust what you're capable of."
The Pickett selection made things interesting, however, especially when he thrived in the preseason (29-of-36 attempts for 261 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions).
Trubisky, to his credit, didn't do anything to lose his starting spot. In his final preseason appearance, he finished 15-of-19 on pass attempts for 160 yards and a touchdown, efficiently leading the Steelers offense.
The 28-year-old struggled to live up to the expectations that came along with being the No. 2 overall pick of the Chicago Bears in the 2017 season, throwing 37 interceptions in 50 starts for the team across four seasons.
While that included a 29-21 record as the team's starter and two playoff berths, the Bears cut ties with Trubisky after the 2020 campaign and he operated as Josh Allen's backup in Buffalo last season.
Now, he's the starter in Pittsburgh, at least for the time being. The Pickett era feels inevitable, even if it doesn't start until 2023.