In New York, veteran quarterback Josh McCown plans to do everything in his power to help rookie Sam Darnold learn the ropes. In Pittsburgh, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apparently plans to to everything in his power to not help Mason Rudolph.
Appearing on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, Roethlisberger spoke candidly about the decision of the Steelers to draft Rudolph in round three.
“I was surprised when they took a quarterback because I thought that, maybe in the third round, you know you can get some really good football players that can help this team now,” Roethlisberger said. “And nothing against Mason. I think he’s a great football player. I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he’s a great kid. I just don’t know how backing up or being the third guy, well, who knows where he’s going to fall on the depth chart, helps us win now.
“But, you know, that’s not my decision to make. That’s on the coaches and the G.M. and the owner and those kind of things. So if they feel like he can help our team so be it. But I was a little surprised.”
Based on those statement, Roethlisberger hasn’t paid much attention to the draft strategy in New England, where the Patriots have now spent nine draft picks on quarterbacks since Tom Brady became the starter, including a pair of third-round picks and a second-round pick. Roethlisberger also was confused by the move based upon his message to the team about his commitment to keep playing.
“I think they believed me,” Roethlisberger said. “Once they drafted a quarterback in the third I wasn’t sure if they believed me or not.”
The Pittsburgh veteran also seemed to throw a little shade at Rudolph, given his post-draft comment that he doesn’t expect Roethlisberger to mentor him.
“I don’t think I’ll need to since he said he doesn’t need me,” Roethlisberger said with sort of a laugh. “If he asks me a question, I might just have to point to the playbook.”
Roethsliberger has two years left on his current contract, and he has said he plans to play three to five more years, while also reserving the right to re-evaluate his situation annually. (A year ago, he entered Brett Favre territory by making it clear that he’ll take things one year at a time.)
Maybe Ben realizes that, at some point, the question of whether he’ll keep playing won’t be his decision. Given his unique history, including the various issues, distractions, and problems he has created for the team from time to time over the past 14 years (including but not limited to a 2010 suspension that nearly got him traded), the Steelers may not hesitate to pull the plug on Ben and give the ball to Rudolph at the first hint of substantial slippage by Roethlisberger and/or the first clear sign that Rudolph is as good as the team suspected he’ll be when putting him among the top quarterbacks in this year’s class.
Regardless of how it plays out, Roethlisberger apparently won’t be getting any special deference from the team as he gets closer and closer to the end of the run. And he apparently already isn’t all that happy about the team’s looming unwillingness to give him special treatment.