During his talk with the media on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II indicated that not only does he expect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to play in 2017, that he also anticipates the team might ultimately address the quarterback position at some point during the 2017 NFL Draft. During a Wednesday interview with Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV, Rooney explained why the team is likely to address the quarterback position during this year’s draft even though Roethlisberger is expected to return in 2017 and beyond.
“Well, I think we were at that point in terms of wanting to make sure we have depth at that position anyway,” said Rooney. “So, we were probably going to look at the quarterback position a little harder in this draft. It still comes down to, from the draft standpoint, is there somebody available that you would take at any particular round. And so, we’ll see what Ben’s decision is first and then we’ll kind of go from there in terms of how it affects this year’s planning.”
Rooney, in essence, was then asked by Pompeani if it’s hard to spend a draft pick on a quarterback even though that player might not ultimately be the long-term heir apparent to Roethlisberger.
“Well, you do have to pick a quarterback every once and a while,” Rooney said. “We picked Landry, I guess it was four years ago now, and even at that point and time people said, ‘Why you taking a quarterback?’ I mean, you have to take a quarterback every once and a while. You just have to have that kind of depth on the roster at that position. And no matter when you pick them, you hope they’ll develop into players who will be good players in the league. So, I think it’s something that we’ve got to look at and probably would’ve looked at irrespective of Ben’s comments.”
On the surface, it appears as though we’ve seen the last of Landry Jones in a Steelers uniform as the former fourth-round draft pick is set to become an unrestricted free agent come the start of the new league year in March. With that said, Rooney isn’t ready to completely rule out Jones being re-signed just yet.
“I think Landry is going to want to look at sort of his options and see if there’s something out there for him that he may have a chance to really compete to be a starter,” said Rooney. “I think we like Landry and to the extent that turns out he wants to come back here we’d certainly consider it.”
That’s certainly nice of Rooney to say, but it will be quite shocking if Jones doesn’t sign with another team during the first several weeks of free agency. In short, the only way Jones is ultimately re-signed is if he is shunned completely during free agency and I personally don’t think that’s going to happen. He should have a new home by the time the 2017 NFL Draft rolls around.
The Steelers prepared for the potential loss of Jones this coming offseason prior to the start of the 2016 regular season when they claimed quarterback Zach Mettenberger off waivers from the San Diego Chargers. While Mettenberger has yet to take a single snap since he arrived in Pittsburgh, he’s likely going to be competing for the No. 2 job during training camp.