Ben Roethlisberger has hinted at retirement in recent years. Last year, he waited until April to officially announce he would be returning for the 2017 season. That was after hinting at retirement after the 2016 season. Last year, he made reference to maybe not having it anymore after a 5-interception game against the Jaguars (I said at the time he was being facetious).
But the simple truth is this: he’s 36, and once you start sending out retirement suggestions at that age, the team has to develop some sort of alternative. It’s not like Pittsburgh went and used the first round pick to trade up for his replacement. They’ve used a 3rd rounder on Mason Rudolph to upgrade behind him. But that has Big Ben now focused on playing longer.
“Well, that’s fine. He can do that,” Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette on Tuesday about the rookie someday taking over as the Steelers starting quarterback. “But I plan on playing for three to five more years, depending on how the line goes and staying healthy, if I can stay healthy.
“If he’s going to be their guy, that’s great, but in my perfect world it’s not going to be for a while.”
Roethlisberger also plays with an offense where three of the five offensive linemen were selected to the pro bowl a year ago, and where he has potential future Hall of Famers at both running back and wide receivers in their prime. With that, he finished 9th in passing efficiency a year ago.
In terms of veteran quarterbacks getting to play with great offensive units, he’s right up there with Roger Staubach in Dallas in the late 70’s, Peyton Manning right after joining the Broncos, Joe Theismann in Washington with the Hogs, Art Monk, John Riggins and company, Steve Young with the late 90’s 49ers with T.O. and Rice, and Brett Favre when he joined Minnesota. All of those guys put up MVP caliber numbers, and better efficiency numbers than Big Ben. So he’s probably right to want to continue as long as this core is there, and change his tune when things change.