I want to make something very clear. I hate talking about worst case scenarios. Why even put bad thoughts out into the universe; to allow negativity to invade our consciousness? With that being said, there is something I feel compelled to make known. The Pittsburgh Steelers absolutely can not go into next season with Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges as their back up QBs! There is no excuse for a repeat of last season.
I am more than aware that Mr. Art Rooney II has already stated that the Steelers organization is comfortable with the QB situation as presently constructed. That is great and all, and I am happy for him that he feels so confident with the talent assembled. However, I can't seem to forget the nightmare that the Steelers offense turned out to be last season when Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season due to injury. I don't know if I can take a repeat of that performance. It was truly difficult to watch a group of men work that hard to succeed, only to be undone by the lack of an NFL caliber QB on the roster.
The jury is most definitely still out on whether Rudolph or Hodges has what it takes to ever be a quality backup QB, much less a starting NFL QB. It is far too early to throw in the towel on either young man, but with several of the Steelers proven veteran players nearing the end of their careers, the Steelers don't have a year or two to try and figure it out.
Due in part to how the salary cap is structured, championship windows can open out of nowhere; totally unexpected, and can close just as quickly. Management must strike while the iron is hot, making critical transactions when the opportunities present themselves. Slow and steady no longer wins the race in the NFL, because planning for the future is beset with uncertainty.
As I have stated previously, the return of Ben Roethlisberger will have the greatest impact on the Steelers ability to return to the playoffs after a two year absence. That statement is true: whether he is able to return healthy, or not able to come back at all.
Anyone who is familiar with my writing knows I am hoping and praying for a healthy return, but there has to be a contingency plan if things go awry. A Plan B, if you will. We can't afford a repeat of last season.
Therefore, I am throwing this idea out into the Steelers universe. If Ben's rehab doesn't go according to plan, the Steelers should consider signing a veteran QB capable of allowing the Steelers to compete for a championship while the possibility still remains. I believe the defense is finally championship caliber again, and a quality starting QB may just keep the window open for a little longer.
The Steelers obviously agree with that assertion, and the healthy return of Big Ben would be the perfect solution. But if they have to go Plan B, then I believe they should consider signing Phillip Rivers.
It appears that Phillip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers have come to the end of their journey together. It also seems to have been as amicable as either side could have hoped for. I am sure Rivers didn't want it to end the way it did, seeing how he gave his heart and soul to the organization: accomplishing everything that could be asked of him, except the ever elusive Super Bowl championship. That has to be the driving force behind his decision to not retire.
If Ben is unable to return next season, I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the few franchises capable of offering Rivers that possibility next season. Rivers is also one of the few QBs, who maybe available, capable of keeping the Steelers championship hopes alive if Ben is unable to return. Nick Foles would be another possibility.
Phillip Rivers has enjoyed an impressive career, currently top ten all time in most passing statistics. He has proven to be an excellent leader, a fiery competitor, and extremely durable. Love him or hate him, he once played a whole playoff game with a torn ACL. Trust me on this one folks, that takes some brass cojones right there. But even with all the accolades and achievements, Rivers desperately needs a Super Bowl title to round out his Hall of Fame resume. The Steelers may be his best opportunity to do just that.
Problem is the Steelers probably won't know Ben's status with any certainty till close to the start of training camp. By then, will Rivers have already signed with another team? I am sure he would like to have the decision behind him by that point, and offer some peace of mind for his family. The Indianapolis Colts are another franchise that immediately comes to mind that could offer him the scenario he has to be searching for.
Regardless of how it all plays out, Phillip Rivers should have his fair share of suitors. Will the Pittsburgh Steelers be one of them? Could the Steelers even figure out a way to fit him under the cap? The Steelers definitely couldn't offer as much salary wise as a team like the Colts. What is the going rate on a veteran QB in River's present situation?
Hopefully Ben's right wing is healing nicely and the thought of signing Rivers out of necessity is nothing more than a off season conversation starter. Acquiring Rivers would be a long shot, but a long shot is better than no shot.