Ben Roethlisberger has put the Pittsburgh Steelers on course for a deep run into the post-season, but the franchise can’t afford to rest on their laurels regarding their long-term future. Roethlisberger has been solid, but far from the explosive player he was in the prime of career. The Steelers’ wideouts have played a large role in the success of the passing game this term.
It’s a fair assessment to say at the age of 38, the quarterback is entering the final stages of his illustrious career in the game. Pittsburgh must be steadfast in their approach to replacing Roethlisberger, who has enjoyed a 16-year run as the starter at Heinz Field due to the quality of their roster that can remain a contender with the right quarterback. The Steelers are backed in the NFL odds at bet365 at +700 to win the Super Bowl in the 2020 season.
A victory and a third Super Bowl ring may convince Roethlisberger to retire as he has threatened to do so over the past few years. His body has taken a lot of punishment during his career and a recent knee ailment has slowed his production after week 10. The 38-year-old may not have the desire to go through another off-season of work and then a further push for a fourth Vince Lombardi Trophy. It would be disappointing for the organization, although it’s not a bad off-season to be searching for a quarterback.
Reports suggest veterans Matt Stafford and Matt Ryan could be on the move from their respective teams in Detroit and Atlanta. Jimmy Garoppolo could be ousted in San Francisco after an injury-plagued career in the Bay Area. Cam Newton only signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots and may be on the move once more.
Jimmy Johnson: Cowboys’ No. 1 priority has to be getting a long-term deal done with Dak Prescott. “Having said that, I don’t expect them to have this high of a pick in the draft in the future, so I would not bypass a franchise QB in the draft.” pic.twitter.com/IRKwwair2J
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 9, 2020
However, Dak Prescott might be the most alluring of all the players on the market should the Dallas Cowboys not come to a long-term agreement with the quarterback. Although Prescott will be recovering from an ankle injury that prematurely ended his 2020 season, he has the skills that the Steelers desire and is the perfect age to ensure that the franchise remain relevant. Whether that would be possible under the realms of the salary cap remains to be seen, but it could be the case of replacing Roethlisberger’s salary with Prescott’s.
Even if Roethlisberger remains in the short term, the Steelers can protect their future by turning to the draft. Trevor Lawrence will be long off the board by the time Pittsburgh are on the clock as will Justin Fields and Trey Lance. However, there are two options that may be intriguing in the lower realms of the first round.
Zach Wilson from BYU and Mac Jones at Alabama are pressing their case to be selected within the first round. Both players have impressed at the college level this term, although Jones may be the more intriguing talent considering that he is operating in the stout Southeastern Conference. Wilson has been a riser over the course of the season and may have more natural talent than Jones, especially with his ability to run the ball.
The Steelers could bring that out in the quarterback, especially if he has time to develop behind Roethlisberger. No franchise has done a better job of quarterback succession than the Green Bay Packers, allowing Aaron Rodgers to sit behind Brett Favre, while then selecting Jordan Love to develop behind Rodgers in 2020. Pittsburgh could take a page out of their book and set themselves up for the next 15 years.
The 2020 season is going to have an exciting climax for the franchise. However, the time beyond the Super Bowl will be more crucial than potentially the game itself for the Steelers. They must get the decision right.