Life After Ben


Ruby Morris

Roethlisberger appears on the JumboTron prior to the Steelers-Titans game on December 19, 2021.

Ruby Morris, Photo Editor

On December 4th, Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger privately told some of his former teammates that he’s planning to retire after the 2021 season ends, per ESPN. 

Roethlisberger is 7th all-time for career passing yards in the NFL, a 6x Pro Bowler, and a 2x Super Bowl winner. 

He, and many of his teammates over the years, have kept the Steelers afloat, as the team’s last losing season was 2003, the year before Roethlisberger was drafted. But now, in Ben’s final season with the team, the city of Pittsburgh asks a question: What do we do now?

With Roethlisberger gone, the team would definitely need a new starting quarterback. Some fans think that trading for an older, seasoned quarterback, like Russel Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks or Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, would be the way to go. 

Although these two quarterbacks have excelled in recent years and are both multiple-time Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl winners, both would be looking for a big salary that the Steelers may not be willing to pay. If Wilson or Rodgers joined the Steelers, the team may have to let go of some key defensive players to make room for their salary. Plus, there’s no guarantee that these two even want to be on the Steelers.

A second option would be to move the Steelers’ current second-string quarterback, Mason Rudolph, to a starting position. Rudolph was previously a starter during the 2019-20 season, where Roethlisberger had injured his elbow during a week 2 game and was ruled out for the season. Rudolph threw 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions that year but was benched for Devlin “Duck” Hodges, an undrafted free agent. 

Duck and Rudolph helped lead the Steelers to an 8-8 record (8 wins, 8 losses), but did not make the playoffs. Duck was released the following year. 

During this season’s humiliating week 10 tie against the winless Detroit Lions, Rudolph started for the absent Roethlisberger, who had contracted Covid-19. Fans, Players, and NFL analysts alike noticed that Rudolph had not improved at all since the 2019 season. 

A third and final option would be to draft a rookie quarterback in the 2022 NFL Draft. There are many prospects that the Steelers may be willing to take, such as Matt Corral, Sam Howell, and Pittsburgh Panthers star Kenny Pickett. Pickett was recently a finalist for the Heisman award. He’s a popular choice for the Steelers, as he’s already loved by the city. 

There are many possibilities of what the Pittsburgh Steelers would look like after the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, but regardless of what the next steps are, the future will be a challenge.