The Steelers passed on taking a quarterback in the NFL Draft or signing one in free agency. Here’s why that may have been a mistake on their part.
The recent video of Ben Roethlisberger gives Steelers fans hope for the upcoming season. He seems to be right on schedule with his progression and doesn’t seem to be lacking any zip behind his passes. However, we can hardly count on Ben to stay healthy throughout the course of the season.
Throughout his 16-year NFL career, Roethlisberger has played in 16 games just 4 times. He has missed 40 games over the course of his career – that’s two-and-a-half seasons worth.
Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges have given us zero reasons to be confident in them to hold down the fort in the event of a Roethlisberger injury. They graded out as the 35th and 37th best quarterbacks among 37 qualifying passers in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.
This offseason, the Saints (who already had two capable quarterbacks on their roster) signed Jameis Winston to a one-year, $2.86 million deal, according to Over the Cap. In addition, Andy Dalton signed a one-year $3 million deal with the Cowboys this offseason, which was more than reasonable for a competent backup.
In the NFL Draft, the Steelers, unsurprisingly, passed on a shot to land Oklahoma star quarterback, Jalen Hurts – not knowing what the pool of quarterbacks will be in future drafts.
It’s too early to say whether or not they made a big mistake by not capitalizing on any of these moves, but they clearly have a level of confidence in Mason Rudolph that fans do not. Rudolph had just 13 touchdowns to 9 interceptions in his second NFL season in 2019, and his 6.2 yards per pass attempt was good for 31st in the league – just a hair above Mitch Trubisky (6.1).
Rudolph got more gunshy as the season went on, and three of his last five games he posted less than 5.5 yards per attempt – which is embarrassingly low. From Week 6 on, Rudolph managed just 4 touchdowns to 6 interceptions, and he took 10 sacks.
Jameis Winston isn’t an elite level quarterback, and he has some very questionable decision making (as evidenced by his 30 interceptions in 2019). However, he also has a terrific arm and constant big-play ability to make up for many of his deficiencies.
Obviously, we are all hoping and praying that Roethlisberger stays upright this year and that he doesn’t have an issue with his surgically repaired elbow. However, the Steelers know the value of the quarterback position, and I’m surprised they didn’t do more to give Pittsburgh the best chance to win in the event of an injury to Big Ben.
Perhaps they have a plan to address the quarterback position next year. At this point, all we can do is hope they made the right decision.