The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2021 NFL season knowing it would likely be the last in Ben Roethlisberger‘s career. With the future Hall of Famer seemingly prepared to hang up his cleats, the search for a new Steelers quarterback can begin.
It’s a process that should have begun years ago. Pittsburgh wanted to do right by one of its most impactful players in franchise history, allowing Roethlisberger to end his NFL career on his terms. But that comes at a cost, which we’ve seen unfold during the 2021 season.
Roethlisberger’s decline became quite evident late in the 2020 season. In his last 14 starts. Following an 11-0 start to the season, the wheels came off the Steelers’ offense and Roethlisberger’s play got worse. But the organization brought him back in 2021 on a restructured contract. Needless to say, the results didn’t improve this year.
- Pittsburgh Steelers stats (passing offense): 86.6 passer rating (20th), 63.9% completion rate (24th), 6.4 yards per attempt (29th)
But changes are coming to Pittsburgh. According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the Steelers are expected to be one of the most aggressive teams in the market for a quarterback from the 2022 NFL Draft.
It falls perfectly in line with our latest 2022 NFL mock draft, which sent one of the top signal-callers in college football to immediately take over in Pittsburgh for the 2022 season.
The Steelers will certainly also explore the veteran options on the market, seeing if an immediate starter can be acquired through free agency or via trade.
Pittsburgh is projected to have more than $40 million in cap space next year, enough to absorb a top quarterback’s contract. But a franchise that has long been opposed to trading its first-round picks would certainly be hesitant to part with multiple, which is what it would take to acquire an Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson.
Of course, there will be plenty of competition in the quarterback market. At least eight NFL teams will be looking for upgrades at the most important position in football and it’s possible one-third of the league checks around on the available quarterbacks.
Fortunately, the Steelers’ cap space, an offense with some talented playmakers and the presence of head coach Mike Tomlin could attract a good quarterback to Pittsburgh.