It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to retire following the 2021 season.
Reports indicate that the 39-year-old two-time Super Bowl champion has been privately telling teammates that he will hang up the cleats here within the next few weeks.
With Pittsburgh at 7-7-1 on the season, there’s no telling whether the team will earn a playoff spot. What we do know is that general manager Kevin Colbert should have addressed this position long before Big Ben started to contemplate retirement.
Now that Pittsburgh must expedite its search for a new quarterback to replace Roethlisberger, we look at six options the team should consider this coming off-season regardless of what happens in the final two weeks of the season.
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Pittsburgh Steelers select Matt Corral in the 2022 NFL Draft
Right now, we project this Mississippi star will be one of the top-12 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. If that’s the case, Pittsburgh will have to trade up in order to land him. At 6-foot-1 and having thrived in Lane Kiffin’s pro-style offense with the Rebels, Corral has tallied 20 touchdowns against five interceptions while completing 68% of his passes in 13 games this past season.
The idea here for Pittsburgh would be for Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins to act as the stopgap quarterback until Corral is ready. It’s not an ideal scenario. But that’s what happens when you kick the quarterback situation down the road.
Pittsburgh Steelers trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
The other idea here would be for Pittsburgh to both select a quarterback and find an outside option to be a stopgap option. That would include going with someone like Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder or Sam Howell from North Carolina while adding a proven starter.
On the cheap, there might not be a better option than the 30-year-old Garoppolo. He could probably be had for a mid-round pick given that the San Francisco 49ers are preparing for Trey Lance to start next season. The 6-foot-2 signal caller is also your prototypical option that Pittsburgh has valued under center in the past. Garoppolo has a history of success, posting a 32-14 record as a starter in the NFL. It likely wouldn’t cost more than a third-round pick to pry him away from San Francisco with the aforementioned Lance looking good in Garoppolo’s stead right now.
Pittsburgh Steelers trade for Deshaun Watson
We’ve seen Pittsburgh pull off blockbuster trades for proven talent in the past. Star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick early during the 2019 season was the most-recent example of this. Whether Colbert and Co. double down at quarterback remains to be seen.
A lot of this will depend on the civil cases Watson faces stemming from the north of 20 sexual misconduct allegations that have been levied in his direction. Pittsburgh isn’t immune from this given the situation surrounding Ben Roethlisberger earlier in his career. But if the civil cases are settled in Watson’s favor, this could be a tremendous fit. At only 26, Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Here’s a dude who has accounted for 121 total touchdowns against 36 interceptions in 53 career starts.
Pittsburgh Steelers roll with Mason Rudolph
It was earlier this season that reports broke regarding Pittsburgh’s belief in Rudolph as a potential heir-apparent to Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph, 26, touched on that this past summer.
“That’s my goal, to be a starting quarterback in this league and for our team, and I’m working toward that goal every single day,” the former Oklahoma State star said in June. “I can only control myself and the way I prepare and the way I approach and play in OTAs and camp, and that’s on the forefront of my mind.”
This is questionable to say the least. In 10 career starts, Rudolph has led Pittsburgh to a 5-4-1 record while throwing 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. His only start this season resulted in a tie with the winless Detroit Lions. Even then, Pittsburgh’s brass seems to have confidence in him.
Pittsburgh Steelers replace Ben Roethlisberger with Russell Wilson
With his Seahawks at 6-10 on the season and eliminated from playoff contention, we could be witnessing Russell Wilson’s final game with Seattle here soon. Remember, there were rumors of discontent on the part of the Super Bowl quarterback last off-season. There’s further rumors of issues that will spread out into the off-season.
Should Wilson opt to request a trade, Pittsburgh would make a ton of sense. He’s as proven as any quarterback in the NFL and has a winning pedigree. It would be a natural transition from Big Ben to another future Hall of Fame signal caller.
Pittsburgh Steelers pry Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers
With Green Bay at 13-3 on the season, there’s no telling if the hurt feelings that surrounded its relationship with Aaron Rodgers this past off-season is still existent. What we do know is that the reigning NFL MVP could very well be looking to call another city home next season. It all depends on how the Packers perform in the playoffs and post-season conversations between the QB and his organization.
If that is indeed the case, Pittsburgh might make the most sense for the future Hall of Famer. It’s still highly unlikely the Steelers will go into full-scale rebuild mode in the post-Roethlisberger era. This team has not rebuilt in decades. Offering up multiple first-round picks for a few years of Rodgers’ prime would seem to be obvious.