The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement could change Ben Roethlisberger’s mind about playing in 2021.
Explanation: We have Ben Roethlisberger on record through his agent as saying that he wants to play in 2021. But we also have it on record that Roethlisberger was trying to convince Maurkice Pouncey not to retire. Now that he has, it’s not clear if that will influence his own decision, after the two have frequently talked about retiring together.
It was obvious in his reaction that Roethlisberger took it quite hard when he learned that Pouncey was going to be retiring. When you couple that with Alejandro Villanueva almost surely leaving in free agency and Vance McDonald also saying goodbye, with James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster to boot, there is just an incredible amount of change in a short amount of time.
None of them have the same impact as that of Pouncey, however. It’s quite possible that when Roethlisberger was previously considering retirement, his word to Pouncey that they would retire together was one of the motivating factors for him to keep going.
Pouncey may well have been the closest teammate in the NFL that Roethlisberger ever had. He recently talked about how special the quarterback-center relationship is, and he was the quarterback’s center for the majority of his career.
While it may well be possible that Roethlisberger ultimately decides to retire, if that is the case, Pouncey’s retirement won’t be the tipping point. It would be a combination of things, from his declining play, to his earnings potential, to the prospects of actually winning, to the change coming on offense, and the mass change of personnel around him.
But the odds of Roethlisberger retiring are actually quite low. There really is no compelling reason to think that he is going to. After saying last year that he was looking to win multiple championships, and that he felt like he could play for years—and that he wanted to play until he felt like he couldn’t—the odds are just rather against the possibility of him walking away.