At a time when it’s fair to explore the message being sent by the Steelers via the leaks regarding Antonio Brown, it’s more than appropriate for the Steelers to explore the message being sent by the comments from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s regarding his future.
In not committing automatically to a return in 2017, the soon-to-be-35-year-old quarterback said, given his age, “that’s the smart and prudent thing to do every year.”
Signed through 2019, Roethlisberger would be walking away from $12 million in 2017, $17 million in 2018, and $17 million in 2019. Perhaps most importantly, he’d owe the team $18.6 million if he quits now, $12.4 million a year from now, and $6.2 million in 2019 in signing bonus money that previously was paid to him.
For that reason alone, it’s unlikely that he’ll be leaving. Nevertheless, the Steelers need to start thinking immediately about a replacement.
For 20 years, the Steelers had a revolving door at quarterback between the careers of Terry Bradshaw and Roethlisberger. They went to only one Super Bowl during that window.
Franchise quarterbacks are very hard to find, especially when a team typically drafts in the bottom half of round one. Still, it’s time for the Steelers to fully evaluate all quarterbacks in each and every draft and decide whether and when to pull the trigger on a Roethlisberger replacement.
Roethlisberger may not like the decision to use a first- or second-round pick on a quarterback. Based on his comments from Tuesday, however, he has no basis for complaining.