clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, the rebuild began well before Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow injury

Ben Roethlisberger is done for the year, but the rebuild is already underway.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With the news made official that Ben Roethlisberger’s 2019 season is over due to an elbow injury which will require surgery, many fans are talking about a rebuild. Saying, “Screw it” and blowing it up.

To that I say the rebuild has already been underway — Roethlisberger was just the captain of the new vessel.

When you look at the Steelers’ current roster, the team is extremely young on both sides of the football, and while questions abound heading into the Week 3 game vs. the San Francisco 49ers, the fan base will get a good look at what they have outside of just Mason Rudolph.

Let’s look at the wide receivers first. JuJu Smith-Schuster is entering his third year in the league, and is already a household name. Outside of Smith-Schuster, the rest of this season will be a great opportunity for James Washington, Diontae Johnson and even Johnny Holton to prove their worth and see what the team has at the position.

Even at running back, James Conner is in his third year, Benny Snell Jr. is a rookie and Jaylen Samuels is a second year back.

The position which would be the antithesis to the youth movement would be the offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster are in the final contracts of their career, and Alejandro Villanueva and David DeCastro are not getting any younger.

On defense, both Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds are still on their rookie contracts. The same can be said with the outside linebackers of Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. At inside linebacker Devin Bush is a rookie, while Mark Barron and Vince Williams are well past their initial contracts in the league.

Only Joe Haden and Steven Nelson represent those outside of their rookie contracts at the cornerback position, and the defensive line has Cameron Heyward, a veteran, Stephon Tuitt, just getting into his second deal, and Javon Hargrave on his rookie contract.

When you look at the roster this way, the Steelers are a young football team, and while the majority of the fan base is looking at this season as a lost cause after the news of Roethlisberger’s injury, you can also see there will be plenty of opportunities for young players to learn, and shine, in the final 14 games of the regular season.

To me, the biggest question to be brought up is whether Mike Tomlin is the man to orchestrate this turnaround, or if the Steelers might decide to go elsewhere after the season. A lot will depend on the future of Roethlisberger. If Roethlisberger decides to retire, there is a chance if the Steelers stumble in 2019, they will look for a new coach in 2020. If Roethlisberger decides to return, the Steelers could bring back Tomlin as the two are essentially a package deal for the duration of Roethlisberger’s time with the team.

Start a rebuild? That rebuild has already begun, the question is did the Steelers pick the right bricks to build with? Only time will tell, and the next 14 games will be very telling indeed.