The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the thick of their offseason, and to say there are burning topics to discuss is an understatement.
Antonio Brown’s contract situation.
Le’Veon Bell’s pending free agency.
Ben Roethlisberger’s potential retirement.
Ladarius Green’s health and future with the team.
And those were just the big topics of discussion when the Pittsburgh media met with General Manager Kevin Colbert Thursday afternoon.
A lot was said in this meeting, and there is no better place to start than with his comments regarding not just Roethlisberger’s future, but also the team’s plan entering the offseason in regards to their quarterback situation.
“Where it stands is, Ben said that it’s a possibility, and we’ll treat it as such,” Colbert told Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola. “We hope he doesn’t retire. If he does, then as an organization we’ll try to move on, and we will move on. It doesn’t change our planning. When we scout in the fall, we scout every position. Even when Ben was a young player, we still evaluated the quarterback class, because how the quarterbacks stack up (in the draft) is going to affect how the tackles stack up and how the receivers stack up. We always evaluate every position, and if Ben would decide to retire we would be prepared then to move accordingly. I hope we don’t get to that situation for a few more years.
“I’m working under the assumption that until he says he’s retired officially, then he’s not. If he decides to (retire), then we’ll act accordingly, but in the meantime we’re not going to get out of sorts with potential retirements.”
“Our quarterback situation: again, I’m hopeful and confident Ben will be back,” said Colbert. “Landry Jones is a free agent, and I’d love to have Landry stay in the mix. But right now we have two quarterbacks (Roethlisberger and Zach Mettenberger) under contract. Will we add a young one, in some form or fashion? Absolutely. When? It’s hard to say. We have to balance that (quarterback) class against other positions (in this draft), but sooner or later, we will have to address that. Ideally, the organizations that have been successful through eras have had the next guy in place. San Francisco went from Joe Montana to Steve Young. Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. If you want to be a continuously a successful organization, you should have a quarterback succession plan in place.”
It doesn’t seem the team will be too hard pressed to draft a quarterback high in the upcoming NFL Draft, but they will be hard pressed to figure out just what is going to happen with Le’Veon Bell. Bell is set to become a free agent come March 9th, if the Steelers don’t place the franchise tag on him, or come to terms on a long-term deal.
“The tag is always an option, and it’s something we’ll use if necessary,” said Colbert. “We have until March 1 to make the decision. Again, this thing is very fluid. It changes daily, once you start into talks with players and start to see how it’s all going to fit. We know that’s an option. Even if we were to use the tag on Le’Veon, we would certainly want to do something long-term and have him be a member of the Steelers for life.”
Speaking of Steelers for life, the Steelers GM said the same thing regarding Antonio Brown, and admitted to the fact the two parties have already begun talking about a new potential contract. Good news considering just a month ago some fans were calling for Brown to be put on the trade block, or his outright release. Although the two sides might not be close to a deal, the fact they are talking is the important part to focus on.part to focus on.
In regards to the other burning topics at hand, Colbert spoke about Ladarius Green, and his future with the team. He admitted it was disappointing to see him riddled with injuries in his first year, but continued to state Green is in the team’s future plans. Nonetheless, although Colbert said Green is no longer in the NFL’s strict concussion protocol, he did mention he has yet to be cleared medically, per Mark Kaboly of DKPittsburghSports.
“You’re not in protocol once the offseason — he still would have to, just for our own satisfaction, he would still have to be — let me say it like this, whenever they come back, they have to take a physical to be cleared to participate,” Colbert said. “So if there are any lingering effects, we would see that in the physical.”
Not in the clear yet, in regards to Green’s future and health, but at least a step in the right direction.
Colbert was able to shine some light on key topics which have been swirling since the team’s unfortunate loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, and it is safe to say with free agency right around the corner, a lot can happen regarding the team’s roster in a short period of time.