Steelers’ future at QB: “All-in” with a rookie? Great vet like Aaron Rodgers?.
The Pittsburgh Steelers face a resurrection of longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in their last six games 4-1. After four games that year, the Steelers were 1-3 and Roethlisberger had completed 109 of 170 passes for 1,033 yards (4 TDs, 4 INTs) and a pass rating of 78.9. “It doesn’t get better,” said Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms, before wondering aloud if it was “fair” to the rest of the team to keep playing Big Ben.
But eight weeks later, things have got better. In his last five starts, Roethlisberger is 115 of 173 for 1,226 yards (9 TDs, 0 INTs), good enough to bump his pass rating to 91.7, not far from his career average of 93.9. Now some NFL watchers are wondering whether Roethlisberger, 39, might get another contract and play beyond this season.
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When asked whether the Steelers should design a rookie quarterback next year or sign (or trade in) a big-name veteran like Aaron Rodgers, NFL Network’s Steve Weissman told Clean Bowled.com, “I don’t know they’re necessarily either to do. because if you look at their balance sheet with Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are (are) 17-8 since 2019…. He’s had a win rate of 0.688 for the past five seasons, the fifth highest active quarterbacks in that period.
In this scenario, the Steelers roll into 2022 with the same starter-backup combo as 2021, which is easy to do since Mason Rudolph is already under contract until the end of next season and has signed the contract with the aim of giving the chance get to take up the starting job in Pittsburgh.
Now, in a perfect world, the Steelers would have the option of picking a potential franchise quarterback in the next draft or two, much like they did in 2004 when they drafted Roethlisberger No. 11 overall after a 6-10 campaign.
But that may require a lost season and a certain amount of luck. In 2004, there were three potential franchise QBs in the pipeline: Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers, and only two teams ahead of them – the New York Giants and the San Diego Chargers – with a clear need for quarterback.
The alternative is to trade in for a quarterback on the first round, which Weissman says is a risky endeavor.
“Looking back, the Jets did it for Sam Darnold in 2018. It’s not worth it, ”he began. “The Cardinals did it for Josh Rosen in 2018. It is not worth. Bears did it for Mitchell Trubisky in 2017. Rams did it for Jared Goff in 2016. That didn `t work. Washington did it for RG3 (Robert Griffin III) in 2012. That did not work. That was three first-round picks. The Jags did it for Blaine Gabbert in 2011. It is not worth. I’ve got more. The Eagles did it for Carson Wentz in 2016. That didn `t work….
Weissman recalls only two recent examples where trading with a potential franchise quarterback was a winning strategy, namely Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) in 2017 and Josh Allen (Bills). It doesn’t work, ”he concluded, hence the possibility that the Steelers will roll with Roethlisberger and Rudolph for at least another year.
Roethlisberger has been Pittsburgh’s starter since the beginning of the 2004 season. Rudolph was selected from the state of Oklahoma in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft after the Steelers acted to get him 76th overall. He has a 5-4-1 record as a starter and a career passer rating of 81.1.
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