The Pittsburgh Steelers selected a quarterback in Mason Rudolph in the third-round of the 2018 NFL Draft who many feel might have a chance to be the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger down the road. With that said, Roethlisberger has now gone on record concerning the team’s Friday selection of Rudolph in addition to how much longer he really intends to play in Pittsburgh.
“Well, that’s fine. He can do that,” Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday about Rudolph possibly taking over as the Steelers starting quarterback down the road, according to Ed Bouchette. “But I plan on playing for three to five more years, depending on how the line goes and staying healthy, if I can stay healthy.
“If he’s going to be their guy, that’s great, but in my perfect world it’s not going to be for a while.”
On the surface, Roethlisberger, who said after the 2017 season ended that he would like to play at least three more seasons, can even see himself playing as many as five more, according to Bouchette’s Tuesday story.
“I went and talked to Art [Rooney II] and coach [Mike Tomlin] and coach Randy [Fichtner] and basically said, ‘Listen, I can’t control — barring major injuries, barring things at home, and things out of your control — the way my body feels. The way our O-line is put together, as good as they are, they kept me healthy as can be the last couple years. I really feel I can play this game another three to five years,” Roethlisberger reported told the PPG.
Rudolph, who played his college football at Oklahoma State, will sign a four-year rookie contract at some point during the offseason. As for Roethlisberger, his current contract expires after the 2019 season. If the Steelers are to sign Roethlisberger to an extension, such a deal would likely happen next February or March and potentially prior to his $5 million roster bonus being paid to him.
During an interview with Mike Florio at this year’s league meetings, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team might wait until after this year’s draft before deciding what to do with Roethlisberger’s current contract as far as an extension is concerned.
“No, I mean really, markets are markets and we’ll recognize that at the appropriate time, but the appropriate time right now is not dealing with Ben and I can’t say when that will occur,” Colbert said while in Florida for the annual league meetings. “But right now, we have to take care of some more immediate-type business and we’re pretty much through the free agency period. Let’s get through the draft, see where we stand.”
Can the Steelers decide to sign Roethlisberger to a contract extension prior to the start of the 2018 regular season? Sure they could, but the outsider consensus right now would probably be that that’s unlikely to happen. If it doesn’t, then all eyes will then be on Roethlisberger’s contract situation next February and March. If no new deal is reached by then, maybe the Steelers will be willing to let Roethlisberger play out his final contract year in 2019 and decide in 2020 if they want to use the franchise tag on him.
For now, and if things go as planned, Rudolph won’t be taking any meaningful snaps for the Steelers over the course of the next two seasons. By the sound of things, Roethlisberger is planning on Rudolph not taking any meaningful snaps for the Steelers for the entire length of his rookie contract plus a year. And that’s at a minimum.
As for Rudolph, he’s said all the right things concerning him potentially taking over for Roethlisberger down the road since the Steelers selected him.
“Listen, I’m just going to do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do,” Rudolph said when asked if he would be willing to sit behind Roethlisberger for several years. “Like I said, I’m going to prepare like I’m the starter whether that’s the case or not every single week, every single day, and put myself in the best position I can and let the chips fall where they may.”