There’s always so much to talk about when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the inquiries surrounding the black-and-gold are definitely ever-evolving, especially this week with the Ben Roethlisberger and Art Rooney II seemingly agreeing on a future for Ben with the team in 2021 and Juju Smith-Schuster voicing a desire to stay in the Steel City as well. It seems like the musical theme of this week’s Fact or Fiction could be ‘Hello’ by Lionel Richie or ‘Goodbye’ by Night Ranger. Here’s a sample of each...
“Hello, is it me you’re looking for? I can see it in your eyes. I can see it in your smile. You’re all I’ve ever wanted and my arms are open wide” and “As the sun hides his head for another night’s rest and the wind sing his same old song. And you on the edge, never close, never far, always there when I needed a friend. But it’s hard living life on this memory-go-round. Always up, always down, spinning ‘round and ‘round and ‘round. All this could be just a dream so it seems. I was never much good at goodbye”.
You can ponder the significance or wonder whether they are really related here. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to listen to some great 80s ballads. But anyhow, there is surely a lot to wonder about. BTSC tries to answer some of the poignant wonderings ahead of time. Take a gander at some bold statements on this and more as we label them as fact or fiction.
Are we on point? Only time will tell.
Ben Roethlisberger’s return most likely signals the last season for Mason Rudolph in black-and-gold
2021 is Mason Rudolph’s walk year and I’m not so sure that the Steelers invest in No. 2 long-term, especially if next season is not Ben Roethlisberger’s last year in the Steel City. Now anything could happen. Heck, Rudolph could be pressed into action and impress. If not, the team could bring back the former Oklahoma State Cowboy as a placeholder until the next quarterback comes to town. Or they could decide that Mason is the future. But Dwayne Haskins is now in the equation and a signal caller may arrive in the NFL draft this Spring. Should that occur, I would think that Mason would like to go elsewhere for a chance at a starting job if he isn’t offered one here. With Ben back, it does kind of signal that they weren’t ready to hand the job over to Mason Rudolph. So, if not now, maybe never.
After his recent comments regarding staying in Pittsburgh, JuJu Smith-Schuster is likely to remain in black-and-gold
On social media the past couple of weeks, JuJu Smith-Schuster has been very pro-Pittsburgh. But is it all that it seems? After Deandre Hopkins took to Instagram regarding J.J. Watt’s release from Houston, the former Texan tried to sway his former teammate to join him with the Cardinals. JuJu, speaking to lure J.J. To the Steelers, urged the eldest Watt brother to join his brothers, Derek and T.J., in Pittsburgh. In the past week, Juju told a TMZ photographer, “At the end of the day, I want to have my legacy in Pittsburgh and retire there,” Smith-Schuster said. “I don’t want to leave.” However, JuJu has still been mentioning his desire to be paid what he is worth. All of this is great and there is no reason to insult a franchise that you’ve had a good relationship with if there’s any hope of getting a deal to stay and not uproot. However, money talks and it may overpower anything that JuJu is saying right now.
Tyson Alualu is the most important Steelers’ free agent that hardly anybody is talking about
When Tyson Alualu was drafted 10th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft, some viewed the pick out of a Cal a reach by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although not a bust, Alualu never set the world or Duvall on fire and was allowed to leave via free agency. Tyson played solidly in a reserve role for Pittsburgh, but his playing time kept increasing and his overall performance got better and better. Last year as a starter, No. 94 held down the middle of the defensive line magnificently after Javon Hargrove departed for Philadelphia via free agency. Alualu had two sacks and four tackles for loss last year and was an unsung hero on defense. Not many people have been talking openly about bringing back Tyson Alualu as a priority for Pittsburgh, but that’s something that should be on everybody’s tongues.
The Steelers starting running back for the opener is not currently affiliated with the team
It seems unlikely that James Conner will be returning to Pittsburgh in 2021 after his contract expired after last season. The 17th all-time rusher in Steelers history has been an inspiring story for the Steelers after battling cancer in college. But the Steelers haven’t signed a running back to a second contract since doing so with Vernon Haynes in 2005. With his injury history and the Steelers ranking last in rushing last season, the franchise may make a change. There is a ton of rushing talent in the draft, whether it’s Najee Harris or Travis Etienne or Javonte Williams early in the first two rounds or Kenneth Gainwell, Michael Carter, Rhamondre Stevenson, Kylin Hill, Chubba Hubbard, Demetrius Felton or Trey Sermon in the middle rounds. The Steelers could go with a free agent like an Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, Kenyan Drake or a bargain like Marlon Mack. But free agents cost money and the Steelers may only have limited resources at best to spend in free agency. Bennie Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr. and Jaylen Samuels could be in-house possibilities, but they had opportunities last season and they didn’t necessarily seize the position.
The Steelers will draft an offensive lineman in 2021’s first round, no matter what
I no longer think that drafting an offensive lineman first is a foregone conclusion. The Steelers may feel that the draft is deep with o-linemen (which it surely seems to be) and could get quality in Rounds 2 and 3. There may be a can’t miss quarterback, running back, edge rusher or other player at a position of need that could help the team in the first round, while still getting better in protection shortly after.
Check out the Fact or Fiction podcast to learn even more about these topics, and their status, heading into this week’s game and listen for more on the player below.