Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced his retirement on Thursday afternoon. The decision was largely expected, but Roethlisberger made things official via a social media goodbye
to the Steelers.
Roethlisberger enjoyed an illustrious 18-year career that both began and ended in Pittsburgh. That sort of longevity with the same franchise is truly rare nowadays and cements Roethlisberger's status as an all-time Steelers legend. Roethlisberger begins the next chapter of his life after being named to six Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls for the Black and Yellow faithful.
The Steelers must turn the page and begin life after Roethlisberger at the quarterback position. Mason Rudolph remains under contract for the 2022 season and qualifies as the favorite to open the next campaign under center for the Steelers. Rudolph has failed to overly impress throughout his four-year sample size, and the Steelers must add competition to the quarterback position, whether via free agency or the draft.
With that in mind, we've identified three quarterbacks the Steelers should pursue this offseason.
NFL DRAFT: KENNY PICKETT
The Steelers didn't have to go far to scout Pickett throughout college football's latest season. Pickett took 2021 by storm by posting career-highs in completion percentage (67.1%), touchdowns (42), and passing yards (4,319). Pickett now appears poised to become the first quarterback off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the Steelers may have to move up from their current draft spot (20th overall) in order to position themselves within range to secure Pickett's services.
Pickett enters the league with four years of starting experience under his belt. Pickett played the best football of his collegiate career throughout the most important season of his career. Scouts around the league have taken notice and the Steelers would be wise to consider doing what it takes to land Pickett.
Rudolph will get a fair shake to prove himself worthy of becoming Pittsburgh's next starter, but adding Pickett to the fray would provide the necessary competition to make this a true QB competition.
FREE AGENCY: MARCUS MARIOTA
Should the Steelers choose to spice up a potential quarterback competition throughout training camp, adding a veteran signal-caller as opposed to a rookie may be their preferred avenue. Whereas a rookie quarterback may have a difficult time dethroning someone who knows their system and scheme as well as Rudolph does, a veteran would not be at the same disadvantage.
Marcus Mariota projects to be one of the more sought-after quarterbacks throughout free agency. The former Oregon Duck spent the past two seasons backing up Derek Carr in Las Vegas and may be ready for an opportunity to contend for a starting job elsewhere.
Mariota routinely saw the field when healthy in Vegas, as both Jon Gruden and Rich Bisaccia deployed his dual-threat skill set in various offensive situations. Mariota appeared in 10 games for the Raiders in 2021. He projects to land with a franchise that currently possesses a question mark at the quarterback position, and the Steelers certainly apply. As they prepare to head toward an offense surrounded by a more run-heavy approach, Mariota makes plenty of sense in Pittsburgh.
NFL DRAFT: MATT CORRAL
In a post-Roethlisberger world, the future of Pittsburgh's offense likely centers around dynamic running back Najee Harris. Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada is a big believer in pre-snap motion and window dressing as an offensive schemer, so finding a more mobile quarterback may best suit the Steelers' offensive style of play going forward.
Matt Corral is a first-round hopeful quarterback that possesses excellent athleticism for the position. Corral both played from inside and outside the pocket at Ole Miss while developing under Lane Kiffin and possesses the dual-threat skill set necessary to thrive in today's NFL. Placing Corral in Pittsburgh would open up a plethora of opportunities in the zone-read aspect of the game with such a dangerous running back in Harris alongside him in the backfield.
Corral currently projects to be the second quarterback drafted in the first round and he may still be on the board when the Steelers come on the clock at 20th overall. Should Corral be available, general manager Kevin Colbert will think long and hard about his selection.