What Should The Steelers Do With Ben Roethlisberger?
In a shocking turn of events, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers last night by a final score of 48-37. The win gave Cleveland their first playoff win since 1994: back when Bill Belichick was the head coach of the team. But as the Browns move on in the postseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers head into the offseason with a number of question marks.
Last night Pittsburgh played horrible, giving up 28 unanswered points to start their Wild Card matchup. The team looked like they weren’t ready to play, and in all honesty, the same could be said for the Steelers’ last five games of the regular season.
After starting the season 11-0, Pittsburgh finished the year 12-4. The team’s once potent offense became anemic as the season dragged on despite having a gluttony of weapons. Diontae Johnson, James Conner, Chase Claypool, and Juju Smith-Schuster to name a few. So what gives? What became the issue with the Steelers?
For starters, Pittsburgh could not run the ball to save their lives. They ran for the fewest yards in the NFL (1,351), and averaged only 84.4 yards per game on the ground. With that being the case, PIT’s inability to run the football put a lot of pressure on the arm of their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger: a 38-year-old coming off of elbow surgery.
Still, based on what people have seen from Big Ben during his career, that may appear to be a good thing. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
The Steelers offense became a dink and dunk offense with very few chunk plays. I mean, in not a single game this year did Roethlisberger average more than 7.7 yards per completion. And on the year, his 6.3 average only ranked ahead of four quarterbacks. Those names are Nick Foles (benched), Dwayne Haskins (cut), Carson Wentz (benched), and Sam Darnold (Adam Gase).
In addition, Pro Football Focus awarded Roethlisberger a 69.0 grade on the season. That was good for 25th in the league, behind former division rival Andy Dalton, and the mustache man himself Gardner Minshew
So for the Steelers, is it time to move on from the 2-time Super Bowl champion? It may have to be.
A critical offseason ahead for the Steelers, who currently carry close to ~$204M in cap charges.
Ben Roethlisberger’s cap number is $41M.25M alone.
Key FA include Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Alejandro Villanueva, James Conner, Mike Hilton, Tyson Alualu and more.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 11, 2021
With so many impactful Steelers ready to hit the open market, they may have to cut their ties with the legendary quarterback just to be able to retain their key players. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, cutting Big Ben would leave them with a dead cap hit of around $22 million. Still, that cap hit could be worth it.
By cutting Roethlisberger they would free up around $20 million, which gives them the opportunity to sign back some of their pending free agents.
Obviously it isn’t ideal to take a dead cap penalty of 22 large, but it is better than paying an aging quarterback over $40 million to play subpar football and hold back the team.
Ben Roethlisberger’s career is over. If he doesn’t think it is, someone in a position of power needs to let him know it is.
You simply cannot pay him $41m next season.
This should be his final game.
— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) January 11, 2021
I mean, the Steelers have a great defense, plenty of weapons, and a pretty decent offensive line. The team is good enough to win now. Heck, they started the season 11-0 with the most important position on the field playing below league average. But if the Steelers are really serious about contending and reaching another Super Bowl, they have to let go of good ol’ number 7.
Yeah, it may sting for Pittsburgh fans to see the man walk out the door on such a sour note, but all good things must come to an end. Look around the league. Eli Manning’s career didn’t end smoothly. Phillip Rivers was kicked out of Los Angeles. Peyton Manning was cut by the Colts. Tom Brady ended up leaving the Patriots.
In addition, the AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in football. Three teams from the division, including the Steelers, made the postseason. Two are moving onto the divisional round. And the team at the bottom, the Cincinnati Bengals, could be on the upswing with Joe Burrow slinging the football.
If the Steelers continue with Roethlisberger, they will be wasting a year of football. The future recipient of a gold jacket is not good enough anymore to compete with the Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen’s of the world.
So like I said before, I think this Steelers team is good enough to win now. But I don’t think they could do that with the 17-year vet under center.
– Jarrod Ribaudo (@jarrod_ribaudo on Twitter)
Featured image courtesy of Twitter / @brgridiron