After 18 years in the National Football League, it always sounds more likely that the 2021/22 season will be the last of Ben Roethlisberger. For the past several years, Pittsburgh has been looking for a possible replacement for Roethlisberger, usually using late-round draft picks in hopes of turning a young prospect into a starter. But Roethlisberger, who may end his career when the season ends, is putting pressure on the Steelers to find a solution.
The simplest solution is to use the materials you already have. Pittsburgh currently has two quarterbacks in the active squad behind Big Ben and one in the injured reserve. Former first round pick Dwayne Haskins and Joshua Dobbs, currently with IR, both have contracts that expire at the end of the season, but it’s easier to have contract talks with players who are already in the building than those who aren’t.
Mason Rudolph is currently the team’s primary backup. Rudolph beat Dobbs for the No. 2 quarterback job and took over the team’s starting line-up in 2019 when Roethlisberger was out for the season after elbow surgery. Rudolph went 5-3 as the Steelers starter before being benched Devlin Hodges after battling a winless Bengals team. He completed 62% of his passes for 1,765 yards and threw 13 touchdowns to nine interceptions a year. Prior to the 2021 season, Rudolph signed a one-year extension and pushed his freelance agency back to the 2022 season. Rudolph appeared in a game this year and stopped Roethlisberger with COVID-19. In a game that resulted in a tie with the winless Lions, Rudolph completed 30 of 50 attempts to pass for 242 yards, throwing a touchdown and an interception.
Haskins was inducted into the 2019 NFL Draft with the 15th overall selection of the Washington Football team. He saw some time for Washington in two games in the first eight weeks of his rookie year, but he earned his first start in week 9 after the original starter of the season. Case Keenum couldn’t play with a concussion. Haskins took on offensive for the remainder of the season for every game but one as he missed week 17 with an ankle injury. Haskins kept the starting job to kick off the 2020 season but was benched in a week 5 game against the Rams. He returned to the field as the rebooter Alex Smith left the game in week 14 with an injury. Haskins started the next two games before going back on the bench, this time for Taylor Heinicke. Haskins was released the next day due to some controversy over breaking COVID-19 protocols and failing to meet the team’s standards off the field. In two years of play, Haskins completed 60% of his passes for 2,804 yards and threw 12 touchdowns on 14 interceptions.
There are many different directions Pittsburgh could replace Roethlisberger in should this be his final season. While not quite proven to be world champions, Rudolph and Haskins offer the Steelers viable options that are already in the building. If the Steelers decide they can’t win a Super Bowl with the talent currently in their QB room, they are sure to be exploring some options through free agency, trade, and the 2022 NFL draft.
If Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Ole Miss Matt Corral, North Carolina’s Sam Howell, or Liberty’s Malik Willis don’t pique Pittsburgh’s interest, the Steelers might consider renting Michael out as a short-term free agent, as they have with the quarterbacks in the past, and Vick and Vick Bruce Gradkowski. Quarterbacks Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Teddy Bridgewater are some of the bigger names to hit this offseason that could delay the Steelers’ need to pick a quarterback until potentially more attractive prospects emerge in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Steelers could also, like Dobbs, trade in a range of quarterbacks that are supposedly available at a price. Texan quarterback Deshaun Watson is obviously the most available option as a league investigation could lead to disciplinary action. 49ers quarterback It has been rumored that Jimmy Garoppolo will be available due to the expected appearance of No. 3 of the overall design in 2021. Trey Lance. Garoppolo isn’t known for being flashy but still has a 30-13 record as a starter in the NFL. Two other veterans who have shown a bit of frustration with their current roster and may be open to a trade are Russell Wilson of Seattle and Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay.
While Steelers management are certainly busy making the playoffs in a wild AFC right now, they will have a lot to consider by the end of the season. Whoever ends up under the center for the Steelers in week 1 of the 2022-23 NFL season, it will surely make a change for the franchise if the shirt doesn’t have 14 letters at the top.