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Ben Roethlisberger is officially retired, now what?

For the first time since 2004 the Steelers are looking for a quarterback, and for many this is uncharted territory.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

For the vast majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans reading this article, you know what pre-Ben Roethlisberger consisted of for the organization. For a large portion of those who recall the pre-Roethlisberger era, they also remember the quarterback carousel of the post-Terry Bradshaw days.

Whether you are talking about Bubby Brister, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart, Neil O’Donnell or Tommy Maddox, all of those quarterbacks brought at least a season to the organization and were a part of the ‘Bradshaw to Ben’ era.

The hope is the organization doesn’t go through such a crazy downturn at the quarterback position after Roethlisberger, but while there are those who remember those days when the quarterback position left a lot to be desired, there are those who don’t know the Steelers without No. 7 under center.

Call them spoiled fans, but you can’t blame them for the fact they were present for such a tremendous stretch of play by arguably the franchise’s greatest quarterback. Needless to say, the next season, and then some, will be different.

Ben Roethlisberger has officially retired from football, and many of us are wondering the same question...

Now what?

Before going any further, know this isn’t an article about to dive into who could be, or is the frontrunner, to be the Steelers’ next signal caller. No, I’m not doing that. What I am doing is helping those who have never done this before prepare themselves for what is to come.

If you’ve only known one quarterback for the Steelers, the first step to this unknown is don’t compare the next quarterback to the previous one. And this goes well beyond Roethlisberger. For the sake of this exercise, let’s say Mason Rudolph is the Week 1 starter in 2022 for the black-and-gold. The one thing you can’t do is compare Rudolph to Roethlisberger. But this continues down the line. If there is a new quarterback by season’s end, or in 2023, don’t compare them to their predecessor.

Once you get over that most difficult hurdle, understand there is no guarantee the Steelers find their next franchise quarterback anytime soon. To be honest, what the Green Bay Packers saw from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers is still unbelievable. Only the Indianapolis Colts, before Andrew Luck’s retirement, were able to piece together a contingent plan after Peyton Manning’s time with the team was done, and even that involved Curtis Painter at quarterback.

There is no blueprint for finding the next quarterback, despite what the annual draftniks suggest. The list of first round quarterbacks who don’t pan out is long, and so are the free agent quarterbacks who are brought in to save the day for a franchise.

To find the next franchise quarterback takes a lot of good fortune. It takes a 6-10 2003 season to get the 11th pick, but it isn’t just that. It takes the Cleveland Browns going with Kellen Winslow Jr. instead of Ben Roethlisberger. Maybe, just maybe, when you put into context what the Steelers’ faithful have had for the last 18 years you will appreciate just how good we’ve all had it since 2004.

This isn’t to raise the white flag of surrender and suggest the team is going head-first into a quarterback hell hole. It is just about setting expectations for what is to come, and what is to come is anyone’s guess. Could the next Steelers franchise quarterback be on a current NFL roster, including in Pittsburgh? It could be, although many will doubt this. Could the next Steelers quarterback be waiting in the 2022 NFL Draft? Again, most will debunk this theory, but one doesn’t truly know.

No one knows, so in the meantime, expect the unexpected. Prepare yourself for some wild twists and turns as the team navigates these foreign waters.

But throughout it all, remember we all root for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not just a singular player. That should matter as we head into 2022, and beyond, without Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.