Tim Benz: Remember recent history when it comes to Steelers signing Mitch Trubisky

Here’s a little historical reference before we dissect the Steelers’ decision to sign quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

On March 4, 2021, the Steelers reworked Ben Roethlisberger’s contract for a final season in the fall.

On March 18, Trubisky signed a contract to be the backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills after receiving no offers to be a starter following a release from the Chicago Bears.

Now pretend at that time, I said, “Don’t worry, Pittsburgh!” When Big Ben retires after this season, I believe the Steelers will sign Mitch Trubisky away from Buffalo to replace Roethlisberger in 2022. Rejoice!

I would have been excoriated to have even advanced this opinion. Appropriately, may I add.

Yet here we are a year later. Trubisky has thrown just eight passes since then, and the Steelers have done just that. They signed Trubisky to a two-year deal to (presumably) become the franchise’s next starter.

I sent several tweets disagreeing with the move. And I was excoriated for having advanced this opinion.

Gee, it’s funny how the outlook changes even though Trubisky’s performance never had the chance to.

Guess that’s the difference between Steelers theory and Steelers reality. Once pen to paper and you get a hypocycloid seal of approval, the roads are paved with adoring Black and Gold fans everywhere you can walk.

Well, until your first interception, of course. So forget all that.

Let’s be honest, news of Trubisky’s signing was met with wild applause in Pittsburgh on Monday for a reason. Most Steelers fans don’t believe incumbent quarterback Mason Rudolph can competently replace Roethlisberger, and Trubisky is no Rudolph.

Well, except in many ways it actually is.

Trubisky’s career completion percentage is 64.1. Rudolph’s is 61.5.

Rudolph is averaging 6.2 yards per attempt. Trubisky has an average of 6.7.

In his final year as a starter, Trubisky was 6-3 for the Bears. Rudolph was 5-3 for the Steelers in 2019.

So, I agree with the masses that Trubisky is a bit better. Plus, he’s more athletic, has more experience, and has the pedigree to be a true first-round draft pick, not just the unspecific Steelers label of giving Rudolph “first-round grade.” .

Fine. So what does this mean in terms of total wins for 2022? What were you thinking with Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins at the helm of the ship in Pittsburgh this fall? Six or seven wins after working his way up to nine a season ago?

That would have been my prediction.

What will Trubisky bring them if he stays healthy all year round? Eight or nine wins and, best-case scenario, another resounding loss in the first round of the playoffs?

If Rudolph or Haskins were the Steelers quarterbacks to start 2022, the organization would have the worst starting quarterback in the division.

Would you put one of these two ahead of Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield? Jackson was an MVP. Burrow could be one soon. And for as little as Pittsburgh seems to think about Mayfield, I still wouldn’t put him behind those two Steelers options.

I wouldn’t put him behind Trubisky either. At least not the 2020 version of every player when Trubisky was still starting in Chicago and Mayfield wasn’t trying to play with a bad knee and shoulder.

So if the Steelers enter 2022 AFC North are still playing with the fourth-best quarterback in the division and are unlikely to win double-digit games with any of these three quarterback options , what is the point of signing it? Why not take all the money spent on Trubisky and spend it elsewhere?

Like, anywhere.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL network says the contract is a two-year deal worth $14.25 million, with incentives up to $27 million. Indeed, it could end up being a pretty good deal initially.

For the sake of discussion, let’s keep it simple and divide that number in half and say it’s $7 million per year. What can it bring you?

Well, what will it take to retain cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon? Cameron Sutton earns $5.2 million if you want a comp. Trubisky’s number should cover that, leaving funds that would otherwise be spent on Witherspoon that can be used elsewhere.

As another benchmark, Joe Schobert is projected to earn $8.75 million in cash in 2022 ($1.88 million cap fee). Maybe put the money toward an upgrade at inside linebacker. Currently, only five players on the Steelers roster have a cap above $7 million in 2022.

A popular rallying cry in Pittsburgh is that Trubisky is better than his Chicago resume suggests because recently fired Bears head coach Matt Nagy “ruined” him or “staggered his development.”

But current Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who Pittsburgh fans usually gut after every game, is going to be the guy who “fixes” Trubisky? Is this the narrative we are shooting?

Canada is described by most fans as an underqualified, overexposed college coach who couldn’t make an offense work with a Hall of Famer under center. But because Trubisky can at least run a little and escape the offensive line’s horrible pass blocking, will Canada’s true genius shine?

I get it.

wow. A little Steelers pixie dust certainly goes a long way in March, doesn’t it?

I have nothing against Trubisky. I don’t like the movement. Mainly because I don’t see the point of it. It’s about throwing numbers at a position that only needs a healthy starter and a capable backup.

My quarterback org chart was swinging for the fences on Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson or Derek Carr. Based on how things went in each circumstance, I understand why they didn’t.

My next option would have been to draft a first-round quarterback if they saw one they really liked. Maybe they didn’t find any.

After that, I don’t see the point of confusing the quarterback position with a bridge quarterback like Trubisky. I keep seeing that phrase used to describe it. A “QB bridge”. I thought that was what Rudolph was supposed to be when they gave him another year on his contract for 2022.

A bridge to what? Another Roethlisberger? Or another Cliff Stoudt?

The only thing I know about Pittsburgh bridges is that they are often closed, congested, sometimes catching fire and sometimes collapsing.

If Trubisky is the guy we’re talking about, I’m afraid the analogy seems a bit too specific.

Tim Benz is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.