Ben Roethlisberger made it official on Thursday when he announced his retirement from the NFL after 20 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While many will be reflecting on Big Ben’s Hall of Fame career, his announcement comes with the question of what’s next for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Roethlisberger has been the team’s quarterback since 2004 and with a talented roster that was able to sneak into the playoffs this year, all eyes will be on what direction the Steelers go with their quarterback.
Do they attempt a rebuild through the draft or do they find a veteran and try to compete alongside a staunch defensive unit?
Here is a look at five potential replacements to succeed Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh:
Rudolph right now seems to be the favorite for the starter in 2022 simply because he is now technically QB1 with Roethlisberger out. It’s basically his job unless the Steelers decide to go in another direction. But has Rudolph done enough to justify being named the starter? The Steelers have seen flashes of him already, filling in for an injured Roethlisberger for eight games as a rookie in 2019 where he threw for 1,785 yards and 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions.
Has two more years under Roethlisberger’s tutelage enough to earn the starting job? He may be the favorite and most realistic option as of today, but he does not come without some question marks.
How sweet would it be for the guy who became a star at Pitt continue his career in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers? The Steelers have the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft this year and whether or not Pickett falls to them may be contingent on what the Denver Broncos do at No. 9.
But the QB class is rather weak this year and if the Broncos get an established veteran, say, new head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s former QB in Green Bay Aaron Rodgers, it is totally plausible Pickett could be there at 20 for the Steelers.
Winston is the top free-agent quarterback on the market and a lot of things are in flux in New Orleans with Sean Payton announcing he is stepping down as head coach. Winston showed vast improvement early on this past year — tossing 14 TDs to three interceptions — before an ACL injury in Week 8 ended his season.
Winston’s high turnover rate has always been what’s held him back, but if he has indeed cut that down he would be an idea fit if the Steelers feel they are in win-now mode.
The Raiders need to decide if they want to commit to Derek Carr long term, if not, a trade is likely in the cards. There’s already been some discussion about how Carr would be a “great fit” with the Steelers if traded.
The 30-year-old is coming off one of the most impressive seasons of his career, leading the Raiders to the postseason after tossing a career-high 4,804 yards along with 23 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
Sure, the turnovers are still on the high side, but there was something gutsy about the way Carr handled himself this past season, especially with all the drama going on off the field in Vegas, and still leading the team to the postseason. Playing in the elements in Pittsburgh and the AFC North will certainly be a different ballgame than Vegas but Carr would keep the Steelers as a legitimate contender heading into 2022.
Hey, if he is available, you gotta consider him, right? While it may be unlikely Rodgers heads to Pittsburgh (last year reports were he preferred to go west), the Steelers could be an enticing draw for the 38-year-old.
He would have playmakers on offense in Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris and a defense that carried the Steelers to a playoff appearance this past year. Perhaps they’d need to add another wide receiver (Davante Adams is also a pending free agent, just saying) to seal the deal but if Rodgers wants to win one more Super Bowl before he retires it’s not unrealistic to look at Pittsburgh as a franchise capable of being that team.