When taking into consideration all of the players that the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost so far this offseason, it’s hard to imagine that they could manage to field a team as good as the one that they had a year ago. Add in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being yet another year older, and you have a very jaded fan base, many of whom are becoming increasingly convinced that this is a five-win team.
Former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum might not be a fan, but he does agree with that assessment. In fact, it is the assessment that he recently offered during a segment on ESPN earlier this week on the Get Up program, when asked for his biggest loser of free agency:
It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers. They brought back Ben Roethlisberger at 39 years old. He averages 6.25 yards per attempt, which was 30th in the league. They re-signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, who averages less than nine yards a reception, and they still have questions at left tackle, center, at running back. I think this is a team that could very well wind up with one of the top five picks in next year’s draft.
Again, reading the comments, this seems to be a sentiment a lot of Steelers fans are actually on board with. And he’s right—right now, we don’t know who’s going to play left tackle, center, or running back. Any of them could be rookies. All of them could be rookies. And they’re counting on young players stepping up into starting roles at left guard, inside linebacker, and outside linebacker.
But what do they do from here? Roethlisberger is here for one more year. You signed JuJu Smith-Schuster for one more year. You do those things with the idea in mind that you’re making one more run. But what about the future? Tannenbaum shared his thoughts on that as well.
You have to aggressively move up in this year’s draft. Next year, there’s only one quarterback, Kedon Slovis of USC. You have to get your quarterback this year, and then maybe it’s a little bit like Kansas City a couple years ago. You have Alex Smith the veteran, you trade up for Mahomes, Mahomes plays the last game of his rookie year, and the rest is history. Whatever it takes, I move up in this year’s draft, let him learn for one year under Ben Roethlisberger, and then he’s your quarterback moving forward in 2022.
Of course, saying that there’s only one quarterback (of note) coming out in 2022 is fundamentally stupid, since many quarterbacks in college don’t raise their profiles until their final season, like Joe Burrow. And given the nature of the 2020 season, played amid a pandemic, there are probably notable quarterback performances that we missed out on.