Start the clock on Ben Roethlisberger's induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, late this decade as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion officially announced his retirement Thursday. Players are eligible for the Hall of Fame after they have been retired for five seasons. SportsLine offers early odds on whom will be under center Week 1 of the 2022 season for the Steelers.
The stellar quarterback draft class of 2004 has officially been put to bed as Eli Manning (first overall pick that year) retired after the 2019 season and Philip Rivers (fourth overall pick) called it quits after the 2020 season. Roethlisberger (No. 11 overall pick) had a better career then either and ranks No. 5 in NFL history with 64,088 passing yards and eighth with 418 passing TDs.
Big Ben was a two-time Super Bowl champion, six-time Pro Bowler, NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, the only player ever with at least 500 passing yards in four games, and the Steelers never had a losing record in his 18 seasons. His 165 regular season victories rank fifth all-time in NFL history among QBs, and he was the longest-tenured player in Steelers history.
Only Peyton Manning (54) had more game-winning drives than Roethlisberger (53), and only Manning (43) and Tom Brady (42) had more fourth-quarter comebacks (41). Roethlisberger's 13 playoff victories rank seventh all-time and his 5,972 postseason passing yards are third.
Yeah, that's first-ballot Hall of Fame material. It's no surprise that Roethlisberger walked away, though, and it was time as his play had slipped and Pittsburgh missed the playoffs. He made the announcement via a video message on social media and did not conduct a press conference.
Will the Steelers select a quarterback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft? They pick 20th and no rookie in the Class of 2022 is considered ready to come in and start right away – scouts consider it a mediocre group with no sure-fire franchise player. No doubt the Steelers would love it if Pitt's Kenny Pickett falls that far to develop him.
Whether the Steelers trade for a quarterback or sign one in free agency obviously would affect things, but Mason Rudolph, last year's backup, is clearly in line to start Week 1 next season as things currently stand. The 2018 third-round pick out of Oklahoma State is 5-4-1 in 10 career starts but his career rating of 80.9 in 17 games is not great. That would have ranked 28th in the NFL this season, behind the likes of Roethlisberger (86.8), Taylor Heinicke (85.9), Daniel Jones (84.8) and Baker Mayfield (83.1).
Rudolph has said that he will feel freer to step into a leadership role now that Roethlisberger is gone: "Knowing that I can be a bit more, maybe I can be a bit more myself as being the leader as I have always been at the quarterback position and not worry about stepping on the toes of a longtime Hall of Fame player."
Former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins will get a chance to beat out Rudolph next summer but lost a bid for the backup job in the 2021 preseason. The top free-agent QBs on the market are the likes of Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jacoby Brissett and Marcus Mariota. Meh.
Could Pittsburgh trade for Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson? The Steelers aren't the type of franchise to send away first-round draft picks and don't have that much draft capital as it is. Jimmy Garoppolo could be a possibility. To win Super Bowl 57 (yep out already), the Steelers are +5000 longer shots.
Here are Pittsburgh's 2022 opponents:
Home -- Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Patriots, Jets, Saints, Buccaneers and Raiders
Away -- Falcons, Ravens, Bills, Panthers, Bengals, Browns, Dolphins, Colts and Eagles
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who will be the Steelers' starting QB in Week 1 of the 2022 season?
- Mason Rudolph Even
- Trade/free agent acquisition +300
- Dwayne Haskins +500
- 2022 NFL Draft pick +1000
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