Ben Roethlisberger isn't going to play forever. In 2019 Roethlisberger's suffered a season-ending injury in Week 2 . Retirement rumors and speculation swirled, but the longtime Steelers quarterback quickly squashed all that, saying he intended to at least play out the contract he had just signed. Roethlisberger then rehabbed and came back this year to lead Pittsburgh to an 11-0 start. Now, after two bad games the retirement talk has begun anew, this time with Roethlisberger making cryptic statements.
However he feels, he has one year left on his contract and if he's healthy, he'll play it out. He turns 40 after next season after having played the better part of 18 seasons. He's made six Pro Bowls, won two Super Bowls and went to two other AFC Championships. He's a Hall of Famer and his body is breaking down. It's time. He probably knows it's time.
So what about the Steelers? Like most teams and great houses in Westeros, they don't have a legitimate succession plan. Mason Rudolph certainly is not it. Joshua Dobbs was drafted in 2017 and missed his chance when he was in Jacksonville the one season where Roethlisberger was hurt and he would have played.
As of right now, Taysom Hill and Marcus Mariota would headline the free agent class of quarterbacks when Roethlisberger's contract ends. The Steelers are going to have to trade for someone - which isn't super common in the NFL! - or turn to the draft.
Matthew Stafford, who turns 33 this offseason, could become available. Assuming the Saints are settled on Hill, Jameis Winston will be a free agent. Dak Prescott will finally be a free agent, but that would mean telling Ben he's done. Jacoby Brissett, Tyrod Taylor and Mitch Trubisky will also be available if they want to get a real close look at any of them.
The smartest thing to do longterm is target a quarterback in the 2021 draft. As it stands now, they'll be looking at a low first round pick. They could do something like the Packers did this year when the targeted Jordan Love and traded up to get him at No. 26. Is Jordan Love any good? Who knows! But that's the kind of thing the Steelers will have to do if they want any shot at getting back to the playoffs in the post Ben Roethlisberger era.