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Should the Steelers stick with Ben Roethlisberger in 2021?

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  • Coach Mike Tomlin wants Ben Roethlisberger back under centre for 2021
  • Roethlisberger carries a $41 million cap hit in 2021
  • 2021 is the last year of his current deal

News broke (via Mike Garafolo) that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be bringing back long-time quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger back under centre for the 2021 season. But with a Quarterback carousel expected in the 2021 offseason and plethora of College Quarterbacks declaring for the draft, are there better or more viable options for the Steelers moving forward?

Does Ben still have the quality to succeed?

There’s no doubt that Big Ben has sealed his place in Canton, Ohio after years of stellar performances but more recent years have showed a mediocrity in his game. Ben’s also had his struggles with injuries in recent seasons and the Steelers will be hoping he can put this behind him as he heads into his 18th season in the NFL. 

Big Ben and the Steelers began the 2020 season in fine form moving to a comfortable 11-0 and a playoff spot guaranteed. But a late season capitulation saw many questions asked about Roethlisberger’s ability to carry this team forward to success. His accuracy took a big knock in games against the Bills and Bengals, and although he surpassed the 500-yard mark against the Cleveland Browns in the Wildcard round of the playoffs, he also threw a disappointing four interceptions. 

This is the type of form that will leave Steelers fans and NFL fans alike wondering whether Ben still has what it takes in the NFL. 

The Steelers Quarterback room

The Steelers would be foolish to believe that the heir to their throne already sits in their Quarterback room in the form of Mason Rudolph. Rudolph has largely failed to impress in his time in the NFL since being drafted out of Oklahoma State. As a replacement for Roethlisberger in the 2020 season, Rudolph was less than exceptional and struggled behind a solid offensive line. 

Rudolph however is no doubt a capable backup in the NFL but asking him to take the reins of this Steelers team would be a big mistake for an organisation ready to win now. 


Steelers options

Whilst not many Quarterbacks will be hitting the Free Agent market this offseason, there is a number of QB’s around the league who may be on the move via trade.

This includes the likes of Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold and perhaps even Jimmy Garoppolo from San Francisco. All three have age on their side, something Big Ben doesn’t possess this late in his career, and all three are looking for a new environment as they look for a resurgence in their careers. 

The Steelers will be unwilling to part with a high draft pick for any of them but acquiring a player like Sam Darnold from the Jets, who is still on his rookie deal, for a second or third round pick would give the Steelers room for optimism once Roethlisberger departs for retirement. 

The 2021 NFL draft may also be a place the Steelers can potentially find their future Quarterback. The Steelers select at number 24 meaning the likes of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones will possibly be in play for them. 

Lance barely saw the field in 2020 following a medical procedure for an old injury but he did catch the eye of many NFL scouts during his sophomore year where he threw zero interceptions and showed impeccable accuracy.  


National Championship winner Mac Jones also raised his draft stock in the latter stages of the College season, putting up an incredible 77.4% completion percentage with 41 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. Jones has been touted to go late in the first round and if he’s still around in the mid-20’s, the Steelers would surely be tempted to pull the trigger. 

Final thoughts

Cutting Big Ben would save the Steelers around $18 million with around $22 million in dead cap hit meaning they have nothing to lose by sticking with Ben for another season.

Another season with Ben at the helm would provide Mike Tomlin and the front office time to solve their Quarterback dilemma going forward and there’s no doubt that Ben will want one last push at Super Bowl glory. 

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