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Pittsburgh Steelers rebuild: 4 step plan to fix the struggling team

Vincent Frank

Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers had it handed to them by the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12.

Pittsburgh fell to 5-5-1 on the campaign by virture of a 41-10 road loss. It’s a game that saw Ben Roethlisberger throw two more interceptions while the Steelers’ previously vaunted defense yielded nearly 200 yards on the ground.

With Big Ben likely to retire following the 2021 season and not much to look forward to on that side of the ball, the Pittsburgh Steelers might be headed for a full-scale rebuild. Here, we give you a four-step plan for the Steelers to expedite said rebuild.

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It’s not the easiest thing to do. That is to say, moving off a quarterback who has been the face of the franchise for 18 seasons. But at some point, it must be done.

Big Ben simply isn’t the same player he was during his heyday. In reality, Pittsburgh should have been preparing for this eventuality rather than foolishly believing Mason Rudolph could be the long-term solution.

In no way is this a knock on Big Ben. We’ve seen Hall of Famers (Peyton Manning) and future Hall of Famers (Drew Brees) hit that proverbial wall recently. It happens to everyone. It’s just time for Pittsburgh to move to the future.

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From a fans perspective, this likely wouldn’t be a hard call. But given the continuity of the Steelers’ organization, it might be hard for the powers that be to move off Colbert.

When it comes to player personnel, Colbert has had his successes. The issue here is that he’s ignored the all-important quarterback position. This could potentially set Pittsburgh back years in today’s quarterback-driven NFL.

If the Steelers are serious about fixing their long-term quarterback situation, getting another individual to call the shots makes the most sense.

Someone like Kansas City Chiefs director of football operations Mike Borgonzi or Indianapolis Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds could make sense.

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With Roethlisberger’s contract set to void following the 2021 season, Pittsburgh will have north of $56 million to spend. Certainly, the team will think about retaining its own free agents and extending others like Minkah Fitzpatrick. However, the Steelers must go away from their MO of building from within and add a couple high-impact free agents.

Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. of the Kansas City Chiefs should be a primary target. He’s still only 25 years old and can be a fixture on the blindside for the next decade. Given their current cap situation, it seems highly unlikely the Chiefs will be able to retain him.

On the defensive side, getting someone to lock down opposing wide receivers in the AFC North also has to be seen as a focal point. Joe Haden is not getting any younger. And while Fitzpatrick is that Swiss Army Knife, he’s more of a safety guy. Perhaps, J.C. Jackson of the New England Patriots could be a target.

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pittsburgh steelers trade for jimmy garoppolo
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The 2022 NFL Draft class at quarterback is not seen as one of the best in recent years. Outside of the likes of Mississippi’s Matt Corral and North Carolina’s Sam Howell, there’s not much to write home about.

That’s why Pittsburgh should settle on a future quarterback when it selects in the first round, only to add a stopgap starter in the process.

Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers should be the top target. It would only cost a mid-round selection to acquire him given that the 49ers are set to replace Garoppolo with Trey Lance next season.

In turn, the Steelers go with either Malik Willis of Liberty or Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder to be their starter for 2023 and beyond. It’s the perfect plan.