Who would’ve thought that the third week of February could bring about the entire direction of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next several seasons? Sometimes one event just leads to another and another which could change everything with a franchise. While that one event may have already happened, what determines if it really creates the issue is if the next event follows behind.
Alright, it’s time to stop being so vague and spell it out.
If Ben Roethlisberger makes his decision this week on his 2021 season, it affects everything the Steelers are doing from this point on.
While the Steelers would obviously need to address what they are going to do with the quarterback position, the question is the repercussions should Roethlisberger not come back for 2021. The reason things could have technically started last Friday is because of the announcement of his retirement by Maurkice Pouncey. Whether or not losing his center will affect his decision to return is something we should be finding out fairly soon when it comes to Ben Roethlisberger.
In fact, Rothlisberger has lost two close friends from the Steelers to retirement this offseason as Vance McDonald has already announced he will not return. McDonald’s announcement did not spark an immediate reaction from Roethlisberger, but adding it on top of Pouncey’s decision to retire, Roethlisberger may find it to be a much different situation to return to Pittsburgh this season.
Does Roethlisberger wants to come back for one more run with a new center, missing one of his tight ends, and with a new offensive coordinator?
If the answer ends up ultimately being no, the next question would be about the chain reaction Roethlisberger‘s decision could cause. Will any of the Steelers free agent offensive linemen wish to return or would it be a good time to move on to somewhere else? If everyone else is going, how does David DeCastro feel about playing with a new quarterback and not next to his longtime teammate in Pouncey? JuJu Smith-Schuster has talked about the grass not being greener and possibly understanding money might not be the only factor in his success. But does Smith-Schuster want to come back if Roethlisberger is not commanding the huddle?
The chain reaction continues. Would any outside free agents be interested in joining the Steelers knowing that a large portion of their salary cap is being taken up by a player who’s not even on the roster? Would Roethlisberger being the quarterback be an advantage or disadvantage for luring in outside players?
The chain reaction could even spread to the other side of the ball. Even with the Steelers having an elite defense, are the players going to want to stick around if they believe they’re going to have to be carrying a lot of the load? Although they had to do so the last two seasons, would they feel more optimistic with or without Roethlisberger?
The even bigger factor comes with teams needs for the offseason. The loss of Maurkice Pouncey has already shot the need to address the center position to the top of the list for the Steelers as they don’t even have a center currently on the roster. If Roethlisberger hangs it up, do the Steelers look to draft a quarterback in Round 1 on the 2021 NFL draft? Would they even be willing to move up to grab the right player knowing they have so many other things to fill on the roster with their draft capital? If unrestricted free agents choose not to return to the Steelers, and any more players under contract decide to retire, the Steelers would have so many holes to fill it might be tough to do so strictly in free agency.
As you can see, there are just so many questions which come about if Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers decide to part ways and not give it another run in 2021. It’s not even a factor of one way being the right way to go and the other being a wrong decision. It basically comes down to how much everything changes based on one player and his effect on the rest of the team. Almost every decision for the rest of the offseason rests of what happens with Roethlisberger.
Eventually Ben Roethlisberger is not going to be the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This day is coming sooner than later. And when it does come, it will change the approach of everything the Steelers are doing leading up to the next season. The only question is if that offseason is in 2021 or still a little farther down the road.