The Steelers have Ben Roethlisberger returning to the field in 2020. However, should they tank for a quarterback in 2021 if he gets injured early in the season?
I hate to be that guy that throws these types of hypotheticals out there, but this is something that had to have crossed the minds of most Steelers fans at one point or another. Ben Roethlisberger has only finished a 16-game season 4 of 16 times, and he’s now 38-years old and coming off major elbow surgery.
There is no doubt that Roethlisberger looked incredibly promising in his latest video showing him slinging the pigskin with a few of his teammates. However, there’s no guarantee that good health will last.
Behind Roethlisberger on the depth chart is Mason Rudolph – a player that was benched in favor of an undrafted quarterback with very few NFL tools last season. Though Rudoph had his moments, he clearly isn’t going to get the job done if Ben misses significant playing time in 2020.
This begs the question: Should the Steelers ‘tank for Trevor’ if Big Ben goes down early in the season?
‘Tanking for Trevor’ makes sense for Steelers under right circumstances
By Trevor, I’m clearly referring to Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence – arguably the best quarterback prospect the NFL has seen entering the league. Lawrence has an incredibly rare combination of size, smarts, arm talent, and athleticism. But he’s not the only quarterback who will be drafted high in 2021.
Justin Fields had a remarkably good season for Ohio State in 2019, and he could wind up being the second overall pick in the draft next year. In addition, North Dakota State signal-caller, Trey Lance, is drawing a lot of buzz after his 28 touchdowns, 0 interception season for the Bison last year.
If things go according to plan in 2020, Pittsburgh will be in no position to land any of these passers next April. This would likely mean that Roethlisberger remained healthy throughout the season, and the Steelers are going into the playoffs.
Not to be a downer here, but if Ben goes down for an extended period of time, what chance do the Steelers really have? Wouldn’t it be better to tank for a future franchise quarterback and be right back on top again rather than suffer through another 8-8 season where we fall just short of the playoffs? Even if Pittsburgh can make a wildcard without Roethlisberger, they aren’t going to go far if he’s not able to return to the field.
We don’t have to worry. This isn’t at all the Steelers’ way. Mike Tomlin and the Rooney’s have a winning mentality – which is part of the reason that Pittsburgh is good year after year. Unfortunately, it means there will be no ‘tanking for Trevor’ in the event that Roethlisberger goes down for the season.