The Pittsburgh Steelers have had Ben Roethlisberger since 2004, but now they must identify the next franchise quarterback.
It’s time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to enter their next era.
After almost 20 years of Ben Roethlisberger under center in the black and gold, the Steelers are looking for his replacement to move forward with. While the team has quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins — who is a restricted free agent — and Mason Rudolph as potential options, neither project as being more than stopgaps.
For head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert, the first order of the offseason is to find an answer. If the Steelers decide to look in free agency, it could be a tough season ahead. Jameis Winston is the best option, but he’s coming off a torn ACL suffered in October with the New Orleans Saints. And, at the time of the injury, he was averaging less than 200 passing yards per game.
Then there’s Teddy Bridgewater and Tyrod Taylor. Neither is going to steady Pittsburgh for the next decade, but they’re both respected veterans who could come in and win 10 games with good weapons, great coaching and a solid defense as a supporting cast.
Beyond them, the market is a sea of journeymen and nonsense. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andy Dalton are available, but Pittsburgh would have little hope of being anything more than what it was in 2021 with either of them. The same is true with Geno Smith, Marcus Mariota or Mitchell Trubisky.
However, the Steelers could look to April’s NFL Draft. While the quarterback class is projected to be much weaker than in recent years, Pittsburgh could look at the hometown option of Kenny Pickett, who starred for the Pittsburgh Panthers of the ACC. There’s also Liberty’s Malik Willis, who has the most raw ability of any signal-caller coming out but also probably needs to sit for a year and get more seasoning.
Regardless of the route they take, the Steelers have to commit and make the right decision. If they can, there’s suddenly another dangerous team in a loaded AFC, led by quarterbacks such as Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson.
There’s a few months before free agency and the draft are complete, and the Steelers are worth keeping very close tabs on.