At this point in his career, it’s highly unlikely that Pittsburgh Steelers’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger wins the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award.
However, just to make sure his stance was clear on the 39-year-old quarterback and a possible MVP award, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell included Roethlisberger in his MVP Tier rankings, listing Roethlisberger with four other Hall of Fame quarterbacks and citing him as the least likeliest member of the group — which features Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes — to win the award in 2020.
Not that Barnwell’s stance should be a surprise, but it was a weird exercise to see the longtime ESPN writer and talking head partake in, simply because it’s clear Roethlisberger is no longer in the same class as those quarterbacks and shouldn’t truly be considered an MVP candidate at this point.
“My least favorite from this group: Roethlisberger. Usually, the easy pick would be to go against the reigning MVP, if only because it’s so difficult to take home the award in back-to-back seasons. It’ll be tough for Rodgers to win his fourth MVP, but Roethlisberger looked like he was fading fast during the second half of last season,” Barnwell writes. “The Steelers star posted a 56.3 QBR during the final eight weeks, wedging him between Drew Lock and Jared Goff. With a makeshift offensive line attempting to protect him, it’s tough to see the 39-year-old Roethlisberger producing MVP numbers.”
Though Roethlisberger was an MVP candidate early in the 2020 season as the Steelers started 11-0, he was never truly garnering national attention in the awards race. In fact, Roethlisberger has never even received a single NFL MVP vote, so it’s not like Barnwell is going out on a limb here stating that the 39-year-old quarterback, in likely his final season, will win the award.
That said, using QBR as a testament to Roethlisberger “fading” down the stretch is a reach from Barnwell. Roethlisberger had to do more and more down the stretch for the Steelers as the run game and the offensive line completely fell apart, leading to him forcing some throws.
The arm talent is still there overall, and a rebuilt offensive line and rushing attack, and a new offensive scheme should help iron out some of the issues the Steelers’ offense showed down the stretch in 2020.