It feels a little too early to be looking ahead to what will undoubtedly be a tough offseason for the men in black and gold, but when it comes to the future of the franchise under center, it’s never too early to start planning.
While it remains a possibility that Ben Roethlisberger could return for a 19th season in the black and gold, affording the Steelers another year in their search for the heir apparent, it’s highly unlikely that happens. Roethlisberger will probably retire after the 2021 season comes to its conclusion – whenever that may be for the Steelers — officially starting the clock on general manager Kevin Colbert, head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff and scouting staff to find an answer under center.
That very well could be Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins next season, but could the young, dual-threat quarterback on the other side of Pennsylvania make sense for the Steelers?
CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin certainly believes so.
In a Thursday piece looking at the possibility, Benjamin writes that it could be a pairing that makes sense for all parties involved, as the Eagles have not committed to Hurts beyond the 2021 season as the starting quarterback in the City of Brotherly Love.
“It’s darn near a foregone conclusion that 2021 will be Roethlisberger’s last season in Pittsburgh. While he’s been a decent-enough shepherd of a scrappy contender thus far, he’ll be a 40-year-old free agent in 2022, and injuries have nagged him regularly for years now,” Benjamin writes. “Former third-rounder Mason Rudolph is under contract through 2022 but is hardly guaranteed QB1 duties. The Steelers, meanwhile, may not have the ammo to draft a top 2022 prospect or the gusto to mortgage the future for someone like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Best of all, Hurts is exactly the kind of QB they could use: young, mobile and tough — basically as accurate as present-day Roethlisberger, but with the athleticism to accentuate their control-the-clock, defensively led strategy.”
Hurts definitely fits what the Steelers could use in a Matt Canada-led offense, adding in the running element to the offense that could really create some matchup problems for defenses with Najee Harris in the backfield. Knowing that the Steelers don’t quite have the draft capital to make a play for an Aaron Rodgers or a Russell Wilson, it could be wise for the Steelers to buy low on a guy like Hurts, giving the brass a chance to assess a guy that they had interest in coming out of Oklahoma, while also giving them at least one more season to build up that draft capital to chase a big fish, whether that’s trading for a big-name veteran or moving up in the first round to grab a quarterback of their liking.
Or, best case scenario with a hypothetical move for Hurts — he develops into a legitimate franchise quarterback under the watchful eye and guidance of Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers’ staff, making for a smooth transition from Roethlisberger to the future.
Regardless of which direction the Steelers decide to go in the offseason, one thing is for certain: the next Steelers’ starting QB will have real, game-changing mobility.