The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the position where they must begin looking for Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement.
The Pittsburgh Steelers will soon find themselves with the challenging task of finding Ben Roethlisberger‘s successor. The Miami of Ohio product is a surefire Hall of Famer and will certainly be difficult to replace.
Arguably the most important position in all of sports, an above-average quarterback is an absolute must if a team intends on contending for the playoffs.
In 2004, the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger with the 11th overall pick. That particular draft year produced great quarterback talent including Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. Roethlisberger has had an incredibly successful career.
Big Ben has led the Steelers to the Super Bowl 3 times, winning 2 of them. He also has shattered virtually every passing record in the team’s illustrious history. Roethlisberger hinted at a potential retirement after losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
Most pundits believe he will return for the 2017 season and continue on for possibly another 2 to 3 years. That being said, it is never a bad time to start thinking about the next signal caller for years to come. So how should the Steelers approach that prospect?
The NFL Draft
The first, and most likely the best option, is through the draft. The Steelers might want to start looking at the draft for a successor this year. If they are serious about finding that next great quarterback, though, the Steelers need to address it in the early rounds.
Many people bring up the Tom Brady example and how he was drafted in the 6th round and top-notch quarterbacks can be found there. Well, that happened once and probably won’t happen again.
The Cowboys stumbled upon Dak Prescott in the fourth round last year and have had nice results. Prescott certainly had a nice year surrounded by a loaded offense, but has to prove his great play has longevity.
The 2017 draft has some interesting quarterback prospects. The top being Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina but the Steelers will not have a play on him considering they are sitting at pick 30. There are, however, some intriguing names that should catch the eye of Black and Gold.
Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Texas A&M’s Pat Mahomes may all be potential targets for the Steelers if the cards fall right. It would behoove Pittsburgh to perhaps target one of these star college players.
If the price is right, the Steelers could and should be able to move up in the draft to grab the guy they want. This, of course, is if they are intending on filling that inevitable void behind center.
If the Steelers do not draft a quarterback in the first 2 rounds, maybe the third, then there is not much point in selecting one late. More than likely it will be just a wasted pick.
The 2018 draft will have names such as Sam Darnold out of USC and Josh Rosen of UCLA. There is a lot of time between now and then. Other college quarterbacks will rise in the draft. The problem for the Steelers is they are perennial playoff contender which puts them late in the draft.
Pittsburgh is most likely going to have to trade up to get the player they want and it might be costly. The return on acquiring a franchise quarterback, though, is priceless. If the front office and Mike Tomlin find they guy they want and believe he is the future then they have to pull the trigger.
Under no circumstances should the Steelers reach for a quarterback. That type of action usually sets franchises back years. Just ask the Cleveland Browns.
Free Agency and Trade
Other avenues the Steelers can explore are free agency or to make a trade, player for player. Free agency is unlikely and a bad idea. The only quarterbacks generally in this category are older or just not very good. A trade is possible but also a long shot.
Trades are rare in the NFL and usually involve draft picks. There are teams currently clamoring for the services of Jimmy Garoppolo, New England’s backup behind Tom Brady. New England is said to be wanting a first-round draft pick in return, which is a little ridiculous.
Garoppolo hasn’t done much of anything yet in the NFL. Teams like Cleveland and Chicago are said to have expressed interest. Making such a deal is nothing short of an extreme risk and usually only pursued by franchises with a history of bad decisions.
The best bet to find the next great Steelers quarterback is the draft and in the early rounds. If Pittsburgh wants to remain in contention for the playoffs year in and year out then the situation needs addressed sooner rather than later. They will have some options in the draft come April 27.
It would be wise to begin planning for the future, while still contending for a championship.