The Steelers could also be quickly headed to a cut up with Ben Roethlisberger after having him as their beginning quarterback for 17 seasons. Big Ben is the final first-round QB standing from the famed 2004 NFL Draft, after Philip Rivers already determined to be a part of Eli Manning in retirement.
But Roethlisberger is additionally set to flip 39 in early March and is coming off a shaky season of bodily decline, on the heels of a misplaced 2019 marketing campaign due to a proper (throwing) elbow harm. Pittsburgh is also about $30 million over the wage cap for 2021, with Roethlisberger carrying a hefty cap variety of $41.25 million.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert was non-committal about Roethlisberger returning when he talked to reporters Wednesday. The workforce can’t afford Roethlisberger coming again until he restructures his contract. Otherwise, he is extra doubtless to retire than becoming a member of one other workforce.
Regardless, the Steelers, for the primary time in a very long time, want to discover short- and long-term beginning QB options. Between in home, the buying and selling block, free company and the draft, right here can be their most viable options for changing Roethlisberger if wanted:
Steelers’ in-house options for QB: Mason Rudolph vs. Dwayne Haskins
Although Rudolph, 25, has performed fairly a bit filling in for Roethlisberger since he was drafted within the third spherical in 2018, the Steelers have given no indication that has been groomed to be Roethlisberger’s successor. This 12 months marks the ultimate 12 months on Rudolph’s rookie contract.
Haskins signed a cut price one-year deal after the 2019 first-rounder was launched by Washington earlier than the top of final season. Before that, he was an intriguing lower-level commerce goal for Pittsburgh. Off the sphere and on the follow area, Haskins did not dwell up to expectations as a frontrunner or a passer. He went from not being a most popular possibility of coach Jay Gruden to not being tolerated by Ron Rivera.
That stated, Haskins turns solely 24 in May has some nice bodily instruments for the place that he can put all collectively by absorbing teaching and getting re-dedicated together with his second NFL likelihood that got here a lot sooner than anticipated.
A possible beginning battle between regular backup and unstable newcomer might not include an answer for multiple season. But if the Steelers are too cap-strapped and wish to use their best draft sources addressing different positions, it could be with what they’re caught. Should the Steelers not take a QB early, they’ll additionally draft a developmental sort to put into the open competitors.
In this situation, Rudolph does have an inside monitor after working intently with new offensive coordinator Matt Canada was the latter was the workforce’s quarterbacks coach final season.
Steelers’ best commerce possibility for QB: Sam Darnold
Darnold, like Haskins is just 24. The Jets are doubtless to transfer the No. 3 total choose from 2018 whereas they prep to both make a blockbuster commerce for the Texans’ Deshaun Watson involving giving up first-round picks or take BYU’s Zach Wilson at No. 2 total in 2021.
Between his well being points and New York’s unsettled offense the previous three years — stamped by the shaky tenure of Adam Gase — Darnold hasn’t had an actual likelihood to present what he can do with an inexpensive supporting forged. The Steelers can provide a steadier system with an excellent line and gifted younger receivers — which could include a USC reunion with JuJu Smith-Schuster if the wideout is re-signed.
With the Steelers unable to get Watson and Carson Wentz already traded, that is their best remaining avenue to purchase a younger veteran with good beginning expertise.
Steelers’ best free company possibility at QB: Jameis Winston
Winston did not get signed as a starer by any QB-needy groups as a free agent from the Buccaneers final 12 months. He settled for a cut price backup take care of the Saints. He ended up staying a backup, nonetheless, even when Drew Brees missed 4 video games, with Taysom Hill getting the full-time fill-in nod over him.
When Winston went No. 1 total to Tampa Bay within the 2015 draft, there have been comparisons to Roethlisberger together with his 6-4, 231-pound body, large arm to push the ball downfield and athletic wiggle when wanted. But inconsistency and interceptions have curbed Winston’s upside. The Steelers might have had some stage of curiosity in Winston within the 2020 offseason, however he wasn’t a needed addition then with Roethlisberger on monitor to come again properly from his harm.
If the Steelers aren’t thrilled of the considered Rudolph vs. Haskins or do not get into the Darnold combine, they may do an entire lot worse on taking a flyer on Winston. The concern is the change in offense from Randy Fichtner to Canada, the place Winston could also be much less of a pure match.
Steelers’ best draft options for QB: Mac Jones, Kyle Trask
Rudolph has been the highest-drafted Steelers QB since Roethlisberger went No. 11 total in ’04. Sitting on the No. 24 and No. 55 total draft picks in 2021, it could be prime time to lastly draft a first- or second-round quarterback once more, no matter whether or not Roethlisberger continues to be in Pittsburgh.
Alabama’s Mac Jones falls into being an excellent prospect worth late in Round 1 together with his robust all-around passing talent set and championship pedigree. Florida’s Kyle Trask additionally has proven the arm and accuracy to prosper with the proper NFL teaching and is lining up as a mid-Round 2 choose.
If there’s anybody the Steelers might commerce up to get within the draft, it might be a number of spots for North Dakota State’s Troy Lance, as BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields can be out of attain. Should it come down to in-house vs. draft, the Steelers ought to see that Jones and Trask each carry a lot larger upside than Rudolph.
Many thought the Steelers would have lined up a Roethlisberger contingency plan earlier. But they could be left scrambling for a solution when having restricted sources. Considering the Ravens (Lamar Jackson), Browns (Baker Mayfield) and Bengals (Joe Burrow) arrange at QB for some time with younger latest first-rounders and the Steelers going through a unhealthy cap state of affairs, a rookie alternative for Roethlisberger appears to be like just like the wisest transfer.