Steelers planning for life after Roethlisberger

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No one is taking seriously the retirement musings of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The team nevertheless realizes that he’s much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and they’re beginning to plan accordingly.

“I think we’ve been in that mindset for the last several years, that’s what this business tells us to be in,” coach Mike Tomlin told NFL Network in an interview that will be televised on Wednesday. “We better start sharpening our sword in terms of evaluation of quarterbacks and what’s available to us or potentially available to us, that’s just due diligence. So yes, we have.”

It makes plenty of sense for the Steelers to be looking for their next quarterback, even if Roethlisberger ultimately objects to the use of a high draft pick on a quarterback when it otherwise could be used on getting him help as he pursues a third Super Bowl win. Still, it doesn’t seem to be a major priority, at least not for now.

“I think because of [Roethlisberger’s] durability and how he plays, I don’t know that we have that level of urgency, but we are taking ourselves mentally through the process,” Tomlin said. “Not an easy one, obviously, but it is what it is. It’s an element of the business. Guys can’t play forever and he acknowledges that and we acknowledge that.”

In the two decades between the retirement of Terry Bradshaw and the drafting of Roethlisberger, the Steelers lacked a true franchise quarterback. Not coincidentally, they also didn’t win a Super Bowl during that same gap.

It will nevertheless make for an awkward year (or two, or three) if the Steelers draft Roethlisberger’s replacement before he needs to be replaced. That should be a very real factor for the team as it decides whether to roll the dice on the next franchise quarterback before the current one walks away.

37 responses to “Steelers planning for life after Roethlisberger

  1. Yes, but don’t “reach” for one this year. This is a terribly weak QB class and the Steelers aren’t desperate at that position.

    You have a legit starting QB and a back up who is at least capable.

    Now, if a guy who you have graded high falls to you (2nd or 3rd round)….well, then you have a decision to make. But I think this will be a draft of “overdrafting” QBs and they’ll likely go off the board quicker than they should.

  2. The term “franchise quarterback” is thrown around quite casually and, really, misapplied a lot.

    No one knows whether a QB will be “franchise” or not when he is drafted — whether in the first round or seventh, or signed after the draft.

    It’s only when they play that we know.

    Ask Tom Brady or Kurt Warner about that.

  3. Awkward? That’s how it used to be done! Draft a guy and have him sit on the bench until he’s ready.

  4. Awkward because why? Brady has had many replacements come and go. Only motivates him further.
    ———————————————————

    You honestly believe their QB draft picks have been to “replace” Brady? Come on, my dude. They picked them solely in order to trade them for better players or better draft picks down the road. It’s a part of the genius of Belichick.

  5. Steeler fans might want to worry about the seeds of discontent already being sown by the team regarding their stadium deal. This is how it starts. San Antonio Steelers in 2025 or 2030?

  6. Had they been planning for life after Tomlin this team may have not underachieved for the better part of Roethlisbergers career.

  7. Such is life in the NFL. Teams can go decades between championship-winning franchise QBs. Other than Steve Young have the 49ers truly replaced Joe Montana yet? The Packers lucked out with Aaron Rodgers, but there was a huge gap between Bart Starr and Brett Favre. Same thing with the Steelers, Cowboys, and it will be the same thing with the Patriots.
    ————————————————————————-
    jimmysee says:
    Mar 27, 2017 5:11 AM

    The term “franchise quarterback” is thrown around quite casually and, really, misapplied a lot.

    No one knows whether a QB will be “franchise” or not when he is drafted — whether in the first round or seventh, or signed after the draft.

    It’s only when they play that we know.

    Ask Tom Brady or Kurt Warner about that.
    —————————————————————————-
    TRUTH!

  8. .
    Roethlisberger is part of the large contingent of quality QBs in the twilight of their careers. Eli, Rivers, Brees, Brady and Aaron Rogers are included in that group . The question is : where are their replacements? I haven’t seen another Aaron Rogers since Aaron Rogers. Without top flight QBs, the overall quality of the game suffers. How late would you stay up on a Monday night for a Chicago – Green Bay tilt featuring Mike Glennon vs Randy Hundley?
    9:35?

    Now, I actually believe Belichick when he says he’s not trading Garoppolo. More CBs and WRs aren’t going to be much help if your backup QB can’t throw an occasional strike. After a nearly 40 Tom Brady, the next most vital Patriot may be Garopollo.
    .

  9. When Big Ben does hang em up, the clock will tick faster towards Tomlin’s eventual departure. Just like they say Gruden won with basically Dungy’s team, Tomlin won with Cowher’s.

  10. Now would probably not be the Steelers year to take a QB in the draft. Any that could possibly be their next starter, such as Watson, Webb, or Peterman, will likely be taken in the first couple rounds. Next year might be the year?

  11. as much as I dislike the big fat terd without Roethlisberger Tomlin is a sub 500 coach.

    Good luck finding that franchise qb again Steelers.

  12. sorosbolshevism says:
    Mar 27, 2017 7:15 AM

    Steeler fans might want to worry about the seeds of discontent already being sown by the team regarding their stadium deal. This is how it starts. San Antonio Steelers in 2025 or 2030?
    ************************************
    Now this is interesting as I, too, have heard the rumors of unrest. Nothing is substantiated but it is FACT that the Steelers ranked only 25th in the NFL in attendance in 2016, just behind the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Jags have some old tarps for you if you want them. Shad was going to put them on Ebay but they are yours for the asking.

  13. You honestly believe their QB draft picks have been to “replace” Brady? Come on, my dude. They picked them solely in order to trade them for better players or better draft picks down the road. It’s a part of the genius of Belichick.

    _________________________________________

    Still wrong. The Patriots drafted and spent time and resources developing QB’s because Bill Belichek values the backup QB position. And there have been 2 seasons during the Brady era where a backup had to start more 4+ games. So, he isn’t incorrect.

    Part of it is because your backup QB isn’t going to lose value learning behind one of the best and they can be traded if they pan out. But, overall, BB just likes having insurance at the most important position on the field.

  14. “I think because of [Roethlisberger’s] durability and how he plays, I don’t know that we have that level of urgency”

    Really Coach? Ben misses at least 2 games every year. Sure, he toughs it out and usually can play ‘most’ of the season. But, I wouldn’t call Ben durable by any measure.

  15. Nathan Peterman. He can sit and learn for 3 or 4 years while playing during Ben’s injuries. He already knows the city and the stadium obviously. He’s VERY careful with the ball as he showed in college so he’s a ready make backup already and has potential to turn into Ben’s long term replacement. He’s perfect for the Steelers if he falls into the 2nd round

  16. Little Ben has been stunning the world with his six-field-goal and one-TD games. Fans have thoroughly enjoyed watching him lay giant eggs in the post season. He will be missed.

  17. If the Steelers were smart they would sign Colin Kapernick which would solve two serious problems for them, the backup QB problem and the future QB problem. The signing would make Ben decision of whether he’ll be retiring a mute question while solving their backup QB problem which has been a constant over the last five years when it comes to Ben and injuries.

  18. Like it or not, Big Ben will be back to claim his 3rd lombardi trophy before he retires. I will too, so I can hear the same old excuses from the haters on the how the refs gave it to them.:)

  19. I love the comment that Tomlin only won with Cowher’s team. Cowher’s team went 8-8 in his last year and did not make the playoffs. Tomlin’s regular season record of .644 is better than Cowher’s .623 and his playoff record of .615 is better than Cowher’s .571. Tomlin is not going anywhere. As to drafting a QB, as my daughter went to Mississippi State, I was jumping up and down screaming for the Steelers to take Dak Prescott in the 2nd or 3rd round. Most of the folks who I have sat with for 30 years at Steelers games thought I was crazy. They no longer think so!

  20. Sorry but once Roethlisberger retires this team just needs to go into full on rebuild mode. The last thing I want is the Steelers reaching for a QB when the opportunity to win another Super Bowl is closing fast. Lets just say they do reach and get an average to maybe above average QB what does that really do for them? Once Ben retires they sit around 500 and maybe every so often make the playoffs like they did in the 1980’s early 1990’s. They need to forget about the future for now and do everything to win now because in the grand scheme of things the time period between Bradshaw to Roethlisberger was a whole lot of nothing going on and we could be looking at that same thing again. Try to win at least one more Super Bowl with a franchise QB and let the chips fall from there.

  21. If Nathan Peterman falls into the 2nd rnd? He knows the stadium and the city? That was a joke, right?

  22. Tomlin has a very tiny bit of a better winning percentage, but…he has also had a HOF QB in his prime throughout his entire head coaching career. Cowher won with a poo poo platter of Neil O’Donnell, Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddux (and worse) and then went 29-11 (.725) reg season and 5-1 (.833) playoffs with super young Big Ben.

    If we can agree that it is easier to win with Big Ben than Neil O’Donnell…Tomlin’s record isn’t really “better” than Cowher’s. Oh, and they actually are both .571 win percentage in playoffs.

    Both are 1-1 in superbowls.

    Let’s not even mention their records when leading in the fourth qtr or record as ten point favorites.

  23. Tomlin has a very tiny bit of a better winning percentage, but…he has also had a HOF QB in his prime throughout his entire head coaching career. Cowher won with a poo poo platter of Neil O’Donnell, Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddux (and worse) and then went 29-11 (.725) reg season and 5-1 (.833) playoffs with super young Big Ben.

    If we can agree that it is easier to win with Big Ben than Neil O’Donnell…Tomlin’s record isn’t really “better” than Cowher’s. Oh, and they actually are both .571 win percentage in playoffs.

    Both are 1-1 in superbowls.

    Let’s not even mention their records when leading in the fourth qtr or record as ten point favorites.
    *********************************************
    Okay, let’s talk reality here. The Steelers won under Cowher because they had defenses that were packed with HOF level players (Blitzurgh anyone). All they needed were “game managers” at QB, and even then, they caught lightning in the bottle a couple years with those average QB’s (Stewart, Maddox, and O’Donnell).

    I’m not taking anything away from Cowher, but to suggest that he won because of his “coaching ability,” but Tomlin wins because he has a Franchise QB is absurd.

    Every NFL coach who wins consistently, does so because of the talent at their disposal. So yes, Tomlin’s record will likely decline when Ben leaves. What’s your point? Cowher’s record also fluctuated, depending on who was on the team.

    BTW, Cowher’s made it to exactly two SB’s during his tenure. He had host of AFCC collapses. No one seems to remember that. I think they call it revisionist history.

  24. Ben was the main ingredient that Tomlin inherited from Cowher. Without Ben, Tomlin would’ve been a complete bust.

  25. Chad Kelly, no doubt after his Pro-day on April 3, he will definitely be!! the cream of crop! Maturing under Big Ben would be perfect for him! Want to know how good he is, ask Dak Prescott! I assure you, he wants him in AFC! Dak will be good or even great but so will Chad! Someone is going to get a steal!

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