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Who is the Steelers offensive leader now?

With Ben Roethlisberger retiring, is there a leadership vacuum on offense?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

The Steelers first voted Ben Roethlisberger a team captain in 2008, when he and Hines Ward were co-captains. The team would not vote him a captain for the 2010 season, going with Heath Miller and Ward instead. After the 2010 season Ben Roethlisberger was the captain of the offense every year.

Hines Ward would be his co-captain from 2008 to 2011, and Maurkice Pouncey would be his co-captain in 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Ben Roethlisberger’s 11 straight years as a team captain have come to an end, and neither Hines Ward nor Maurkice Pouncey are around to take the mantle, leading to a question I was recently asked on Twitter.

That’s a good question. And it isn’t just a harmless question to ponder either. That’s a very serious question.

With Ben Roethlisberger retired, who is in position to step up and lead on offense? The Defense is in great hands, Cameron Heyward is THE leader of the defense, but the team also has T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joe Haden if he returns. The Steelers defense is in good hands.

But the offense?

Let’s start by looking at the players who have been with the Steelers the longest. Your longest tenured Steeler on offense with Roethlisberger retired is...

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 5 years

That’s it. If you look at 4 years you get:

Mason Rudolph
Chukwuma Okorafor
James Washington
Zach Banner

Anyone excited for the co-captaincy of Zach Banner and Mason Rudolph?

But think about it, what other options do the Steelers have? JuJu Smith-Schuster is a free agent, and while he says he would like to return, and I have no reason to doubt him after he stuck around for this past season and worked his tail off to be back for the playoff game, it is far from guaranteed he will return.

I think JuJu Smith-Schuster is the obvious choice for captain if he does return. I’m sure a lot of people will be dismayed at the thought of leadership TikToks and team-building Corvette Corvette sessions, it’s a joke people, but imagine if JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t return.

Who on the Steelers would you want for a team captain?

I can’t find a list of Steeler captains from before the year 2000, but going back that far there isn’t a player that was voted captain on offense or defense that hadn’t been with the team at least two seasons, and most had been with the team for 4 or more years before they made captain.

No free agent acquisition has been named captain in their first year with the Steelers, and I can’t imagine a rookie being a team captain before they ever played a snap in the NFL. So who should be the Steelers captain in 2022 if JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t return?

Really, who are the leaders of this offense now? Kevin Colbert’s “Ben Roethlisberger and a bunch of kids” comment fits the 2021 Steelers offense, and now Roethlisberger is gone. Who do you see as the leader of the Steelers offense now?

Vote in the poll and then let me know in the comments if you think the Steelers are in trouble from a leadership perspective.

Poll

If JuJu Smith-Schuster doesn’t return, who should be the captain of the Steelers offense?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Diontae Johnson
    (79 votes)
  • 60%
    Najee Harris
    (742 votes)
  • 1%
    Chukwuma Okorafor
    (22 votes)
  • 18%
    Mason Rudolph
    (229 votes)
  • 11%
    Bring in a free agent veteran and make them the captain
    (146 votes)
1218 votes total Vote Now