I posed the question a week ago, with Ben Roethlisberger retired and JuJu Smith-Schuster a free agent, who would be the Steelers captain on offense in 2022?
No player has been a captain in their first year with the team, and as far back as I can trace, no one was a captain on offense or defense before spending multiple years on the team. James Farrior was the quickest, the veteran free agent made captain after only 2 years on the Steelers. But there aren’t many good options for the Steelers that have been here 2 years if JuJu Smith-Schuster leaves.
I gave five options in a poll for who fans thought should be the captain in that case, here are the results:
Najee Harris - 61%
Mason Rudolph - 19%
Veteran Free Agent - 12%
Diontae Johnson - 6%
Chukwuma Okorafor - 2%
Najee Harris was the clear winner, with a free agent coming in third. A full 73% of voters are willing to dispense with tradition and give the captaincy to either a second year player or a Free Agent new to the team.
With all the rumors surrounding the Steelers looking at rookie quarterbacks and their rumored interest in Jimmy Garoppolo, is it possible the leadership situation could push them to make a trade to get a leader for the offense? Does it put more pressure on the Steelers to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster so they can have a good option for team captain?
While we won’t know the end result for a while, and may never know how much the Steelers thought about the captain role and leadership on the offense in planning out their roster moves, I can’t imagine it hasn’t been thought about at all. Jimmy Garoppolo might not be the greatest talent at quarterback, but he has shown he is a respected team leader who has the support of his team mates. He is a three time captain of the 49ers, and could be a person the Steelers view as the right kind of leader to bring in and mentor a young quarterback that isn’t ready to play yet.
It’s just my opinion, but I expect the Steelers to acquire a veteran quarterback to take the captain spot, or to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster so he can fill that leadership role if they go with the quarterbacks already on the roster and a rookie. While Steeler fans are clearly willing to rock with Najee Harris as their captain, I don’t expect Harris to be a team captain in 2022.