Signing Mason Rudolph brings up good (and bad) memories for Brian Callahan

Former rivals join forces in Tennessee.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) throws in the third quarter during a Week 16 NFL
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) throws in the third quarter during a Week 16 NFL / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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Former Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Mason Rudolph has a new employer, the Tennessee Titans.

A 2018 third-round pick from Oklahoma State by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018, Titans’ general manager Ran Carthon inked the former OSU Cowboy to a two-year, $2.87 million deal (via Spotrac). He joins Will Levis and Malik Willis in Tennessee’s quarterback room.

So why the addition of Rudolph, with young players such as Levis and Willis? It is somewhat interesting to note that Rudolph, including this past season’s playoff loss at Buffalo, has started a total of 14 NFL contests. On the other hand, the aforementioned duo has combined for a dozen starts.

Another point is that new Titans’ head coach Brian Callahan may not be familiar with the two younger performers. Tennessee and Cincinnati squared off against each other in both 2022 and this past season and Ryan Tannehill was the Titans’ starting quarterback in both contests. Willis did not see the field in either meeting, and Levis was inactive in this past season’s 27-3 victory at Nashville.

This past season, Rudolph was the Steelers’ third different starting quarterback, and he made the most of that opportunity. It began on a Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, with Callahan and the Bengals in town. On the Steelers’ second play from scrimmage, he hit wide receiver George Pickens on a quick slant and the talented performer turned it into an 86-yard score. Rudolph finished the game with 290 yards through the air and a pair of scores, both to Pickens, in a 34-11 win.

The six-year pro also played well in road wins at Seattle and at Baltimore. In his three starts, he combined to make 74.7% of his throws for 716 yards and three TDs, without an interception. There was a lost fumble in rainy Baltimore in Week 18, but Rudolph’s patience and experience were key to the team eventually clinching a playoff berth.

Rudolph also threw for 229 yards and two scores vs. the Bills but served up a critical interception. Nevertheless, he helped rally the team to get within seven points in the fourth quarter after Mike Tomlin’s team spotted Buffalo a 21-0 lead. In each game he started in 2023, Rudolph showed plenty of poise and resiliency. That should come in handy during Callahan’s first season as an NFL head coach.