The Pittsburgh Steelers have known who their quarterback was for most of the past 18 seasons.
But with Ben Roethlisberger expected to announce his retirement, there suddenly is plenty of uncertainty over the team’s quarterback position.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday the team will consider a variety of options in which to find their new starting quarterback. Tomlin said he and general manager Kevin Colbert will discuss whether to proceed forward with an internal option, acquire a signal-caller via trade or free agency or select one in the NFL draft.
“All options are on the table,” Tomlin said during a media briefing two days after Pittsburgh’s season ended with a 42-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC wild-card game. “I enjoy working with Kevin this time of year because we speak plain English. We have to improve our football team. There’s two major ways you do it. You do it to free agency, and you do it through the draft.
“We have to look at what’s available to us in the draft positionally. And we have to look at what’s available to us, potentially, in free agency, positionally, and then we kind of bring those two discussions together. And it kind of gives us a path in which to go about addressing our needs.”
Replacing a future Hall of Famer like the 39-year-old Roethlisberger doesn’t seem insurmountable to Tomlin.
“I’m excited about that — that challenge,” Tomlin said. “Those of us that are competitors are. It’s a challenge, man. It kind of makes you uneasy. But I’ve learned to run to those challenges. I’ve learned to appreciate those challenges. The uncertainty surrounding them is inspiring to me in terms of producing work.”
One veteran quarterback who may be available via trade is Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Quarterbacks who could become free agents include Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.
The internal options are Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins.
Rudolph is 5-4-1 in 10 starts over the past three seasons. Eight of those starts came in 2019 after Roethlisberger sustained a season-ending elbow injury. Rudolph passed for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions that year.
Haskins didn’t see any action for the Steelers this season. He went 3-10 as a starter over the previous two seasons for Washington before being released late in the 2020 campaign. He passed for 2,804 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
“Mason and Dwayne have had their moments, but they’ll have to prove that,” Tomlin said about the possibility one of them could be the team’s next starter. “And not only in the team development process but through playing itself. They’re guys that start that I wouldn’t characterize as every-day starters. And so they’ll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there’s going to be competition. There always is.
“I think that both guys have positioned themselves to fight that fight with what they’ve done from a work standpoint and a professionalism standpoint in 2021.”
–Field Level Media