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A Letter From the Editor: Feeling all the things as fans prepare for life without Big Ben

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2004, and it’s okay to feel all the feels preparing for the unknown.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

There is a large portion of the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base who don’t know the black and gold without Ben Roethlisberger as the quarterback. Older fans call them spoiled, but who are they to blame for being born in a tremendous era of Steelers football?

That era is now a thing of the past as Roethlisberger officially retired from football this week. I have to be honest, I was emotional when I watched the 2 minute video showing Roethlisberger thank his family and clean out his locker. No, not uncontrollable sobbing, but more reflective of the 18 seasons Roethlisberger has been the man for the Steelers.

If you were like me, you shouldn’t be ashamed. It likely means you put your heart and soul into this team, and you feel as if a family member, or close friend, is calling it a career. You know it won’t be the same, and that’s sad, but it also doesn’t mean things will be awful the next time around.

As the feelings of sadness are real, there is also a sense of excitement about this upcoming offseason. And the feeling of excitement shouldn’t be misconstrued as a slap in the face of Roethlisberger.

When was the last time the Steelers held this much salary cap space in an offseason? I certainly can’t remember one. When you also consider other roster moves which could be made as well, you can see that cap space number going up even more.

With this amount of cap space, the Steelers will have the means to actually revamp their roster. Sure, they have a lot of free agents about to hit the open market this offseason, but they also have an ability they haven’t had in the Mike Tomlin era. Instead of the team having to make cuts to just be cap compliant, they are in position to make moves which can make this roster better immediately.

Then there is the quarterback position. Everyone loves to point to 2019 as a reason why the Steelers are about to hit a long dry spell as an organization without Roethlisberger, but is that fair? Mason Rudolph, who was drafted in 2018, didn’t even dress for a game his rookie season. When he played in 2019, as a red shirt player, he had his ups and downs.

I’m not going to get into that crazy season with Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges, but I do believe fans shouldn’t turn back to a season where Roethlisberger was the starter all through training camp and the preseason, only to be lost for the season in Week 2. This year the new signal caller, whoever that may be, will have the entire offseason to prepare themselves for the task at hand.

On top of the cap space and ever-changing roster, the organization is about to see another change at both defensive coordinator and General Manager (GM). With Keith Butler retiring, and Kevin Colbert preparing to step down after the 2022 NFL Draft, the unknown aspect of the upcoming offseason grows. Who will replace these two long-time employees?

The unknown is what’s frightening, but also exhilarating. This can be a turning point in the organization’s rich history. If the front office can keep specific free agents, bring in some new talent, fill out the coaching staff/front office and nail the 2022 NFL Draft, the down years for this franchise might be brief. Let’s not talk about the alternative to this scenario...

Life without Ben Roethlisberger is going to be different, and quite possibly the biggest adjustment for fans, but this offseason will provide all the feelings for the die hard black and gold fan. And we’ll be right here with you every step of the way at BTSC. So stay tuned, and get your popcorn ready!

(Editor’s Note: The “Letter From the Editor” series runs every Sunday in the offseason, so be sure to check back for more Steelers nonsense.)