Featured Image Credit: Jeffrey Beall, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Folks, another season of championship aspirations in the Mike Tomlin/Ben Roethlisberger era for the Steelers has come to an abrupt halt with the Steelers getting curb stomped by the Cleveland Browns by a score of 48-37. The game really was never close despite a few surges from the Steelers in the second half.
It seems like just yesterday the Steelers were 11-0 and dreaming of being the AFC’s number 1 seed with the road to the Super Bowl going through the Steel City. Out of nowhere, one loss to the Washington Football team turned into three in a row. The Steelers would go on to win just one more regular season game to finish 12-4 before getting embarrassed by a Browns team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1994.
As this season went on, one thing became extremely clear to me for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger needs to retire immediately. It’s a very tough realization to come to but it’s one that will be in the best interest of the football team moving forward.
He simply hasn’t looked good over the course of the second half of the season and he looks tired. Big Ben isn’t known for taking care of his body and in his older age that is definitely showing. I don’t care if he threw for 500+ yards against the Browns, that was largely due to the game script and him throwing 68 passes. He had a good run for the Steelers that quite frankly should have ended in more Super Bowls than it did but he still provided the fans with plenty of great memories.
As a Giants fan, I understand how difficult this time is for Steelers fans. I just went through this last year with it being time for Eli Manning to retire. The fan base was divided because half of it felt like Eli Manning could play longer and the other half felt like while he was one of the best players in franchise history, it was simply time for him to move on. It’s a brutal spot to be in.
Now, will Big Ben retire this offseason? While there’s not a doubt in my mind that he should, he still has one year left on his contract at a whopping $41M cap hit with a $22.5M dead cap number. That’s not going to be an easy contract to get off the books. So the Steelers may end up being stuck with him in 2021 despite him just not being effective anymore.
Regardless of whether or not Ben is the quarterback in 2021, the Steelers need to start working on a succession plan now. It’s clear as day that Mason Rudolph and Josh Dobbs are not the answer. They need to draft someone early or bring in a young quarterback with upside, like maybe Sam Darnold should the Jets take Justin Fields, to at least have someone in the building that can both challenge Big Ben for his job and replace Big Ben heading into the future.
Most players don’t get that Jerome Bettis ending of winning a Super Bowl in your home town and riding off into the sunset. Things could get messy here for a short while. Either way, once the blood dries from the wounds I’m certain that time will heal them. Ben Roethlisberger is an all time great and he will always be remembered as a legendary Steeler in Pittsburgh, Canton, and beyond.