Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger should retire alongside Philip Rivers

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers (17). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Steelers Ben Roethlisberger is still contemplating his return for the 2021 season. Here’s why he should go out with his old draftmate, Philip Rivers.

Who would have predicted back in 2004 that Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers would become two of the most productive quarterbacks in the history of the NFL? Along with former first overall pick, Eli Manning, this trio would combine for over 180,000 passing yards and all three quarterbacks currently sit inside the top 8 leaders in all-time passing yards. The Steelers lucked out with being able to land Big Ben with the 11th overall pick, as he proved to be one of the best players in the history of the franchise.

Now seventeen years later, we sit back and admire the careers of these future Hall of Famers. Through this point, Roethlisberger and Rivers have posted remarkably similar stats, via Pro Football Reference (apart from Super Bowl wins and appearances, of course):

Now after a lengthy and illustrious career, Philip Rivers has officially decided to hang up his cleats for good. Rivers currently sits at 5th all-time in both passing yards and touchdowns and is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

Should Ben Roethlisberger join Rivers in retirement?

While these two players weren’t exactly rivals that met every year, electing to retire at the same time would make for quite the story, as the NFL would cherish the memory of two of the top quarterbacks to grace the game over the past decade-and-a-half. While the Colts and Steelers both came up short in 2020, making the playoffs could be looked at as an accomplishment in itself – though it didn’t end the way either wanted it to.

For Roethlisberger, this shouldn’t be his only motivation to call it quits. While the back-half of Pittsburgh’s 2020 season was clearly a letdown, Big Ben knows that he is no longer that same kid that could move around and sling the pigskin down the field with a flick of the wrist. Over time, his age and injury history have forced him to become a rhythm pocket passer that resembled more of Alex Smith than a young Roethlisberger.

Though the money he would be missing out on is obviously added motivation to stick it out for one more year, Ben knows that there is going to be a lot of turnover on Pittsburgh’s roster this year, and he risks embarrassment – even potentially getting benched in 2021 – if he elects to return.

Steelers should convince Ben to hang it up

In all honestly, if Ben isn’t willing to walk away with Philip Rivers this offseason, the Steelers should sit down and give him an ultimatum. With all of the coaching changes and roster moves that will take place this offseason for Pittsburgh, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build around your soon-to-be 39-year-old quarterback – especially when he is costing more money against the salary cap this year than any player in the league.

Pittsburgh knew when it was time for legends like Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward to step away from the game, and they should convince Big Ben to do the same – for his own sake and the sake of the team.

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The Steelers need to start retooling for the future and that shouldn’t include Ben Roethlisberger returning this year. He has a chance this offseason to step away on his own terms, but it’s looking increasingly likely that he will attempt to give it one more go.