Pittsburgh Steelers fans woke up Friday wondering who their starting quarterback will be when the 2022 season begins – a feeling they haven’t had for 18 long years.
Ben Roethlisberger finally confirmed what many expected on Thursday – he is retiring from pro football after two Super Bowl titles, six Pro Bowl appearances and a record as a perennial winner.
‘Big Ben’ was more than just the fifth all-time passing leader in NFL history, he was a born winner renowned for extending plays and finding ways to win games late. No better example than the late dart to Arizona hearts to win Super Bowl XLIII in early 2009.
But in 2021 it was clear Roethlisberger’s physical skills had declined to the point where retirement wasn’t a possibility – it was a downright requirement.
Now the Steelers must look at who comes next, and here are their potential options:
Should the Steelers trade for a QB?
So here’s the good news – they say everything in life is about timing. Never truer than the likely veteran QB market this upcoming offseason. There are some huge names set to be available for the right price – and Pittsburgh is well under the salary cap with $34million available to spend:
Aaron Rodgers: Set to leave Green Bay after a glittering career in Wisconsin. Had another stellar year in 2021 which is likely to end with him repeating as league MVP, but that probably won’t stop a divorce which has been a couple of years in the making. Whoever picks up this future Hall of Famer will likely have to provide the Packers with 3 x first-round picks, and Rodgers with a new contract. He is currently set to count $44million against the 2022 cap.
Russell Wilson: Last offseason Wilson’s representatives leaked the names of the teams he’d be willing to be traded to (Russ has a no-trade clause in his Seattle contract). If you’ve forgotten, they were Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago and Dallas. Well, another underwhelming season in the Pacific Northwest ended with the feeling that surely it is now rebuild time for the Seahawks – and getting significant return for Wilson’s services would be a good start. Again, that is likely to be three first-round picks and a new deal.
Deshaun Watson: An incredible talent, but also with significant baggage right now. The Houston Texan standout has more than 20 civil lawsuits hanging over him for alleged sexual misconduct and alleged sexual assault. If that situation is resolved then he will be a hot property on the trade market – again think 3 x first-round picks as a starting point. Miami did try to trade for Watson during the 2021 season but no dice.
Should the Steelers draft a QB?
Again, this might just be good timing for Pittsburgh – namely the fact there are no generational talents in the 2022 Draft. At least per scouts there are not.
The prospects regarded as potential first-round picks are headed by Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Liberty’s Malik Willis and Ole Miss’ Matt Corral. But none of them are likely to be top 10 or so it seems.
This definitely puts Pittsburgh in play at #20 overall – a trade up is a distinct possibility if they see a signal caller they really like. Pickett of course played his college ball locally so who knows, if the brass like him, that would be a popular move.
Should the Steelers sign a free agent QB?
Plain and simple, the answer here is a hard ‘no’. This is a perennial winner and one of the league’s most storied franchise. Great QBs do not hit the open market often (bar Peyton to Denver and Brady to Tampa) and a retread won’t cut it for Mike Tomlin and his roster.
Is the next Steelers QB already on the team?
No, it’s Mason Rudolph. Anybody who watched the putrid show he put on against Detroit in that awful tied game in 2021 should now know that is not an option.
If the 2022 starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers is already on the roster, it’s bad news.