The NFL revealed its next Hall of Fame class for 2022, and I have to say, it’s…underwhelming. And not because there weren’t some strong candidates available, particularly, in my estimation, DeMarcus Ware. I couldn’t help but notice Reggie Wayne and Torrey Holt still waiting, as well.
That’s a bad sign for former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward and his chances for ever getting in. But he does have two rings, and he was the MVP of the game for one of those Super Bowls, even if Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback.
Roethlisberger obviously played a critical role in both of the team’s championship seasons when he played. Now retired, however, Ward believes the Steelers are not going to find his replacement on their own roster, nor in free agency.
“I think they have to look into the draft to find the next Ben Roethlisberger to come out and lead the team for many years”, he told Scott Polacek for Bleachers Report yesterday. “They’re already loaded on defense. Najee Harris had a great year, and there’s Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. So you have some weapons out there, now you just have to find that quarterback to lead the charge”.
Harris and Johnson were both Pro Bowlers in 2021, though they were selected as alternates after those who were voted in at their positions—the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase, respectively—advanced to the Super Bowl. But outside of that pair and tight end Pat Freiermuth, so much remains uncertain.
For starters, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, Trai Turner, and Chukwuma Okorafor are all set to be unrestricted free agents, as well as Eric Ebron, though nobody expects the team to show much interest in re-signing him.
Even disregarding their own upcoming free agents, there are numerous questions about those who remain. Are any of their remaining offensive linemen starting material? Can Kendrick Green be salvaged, even if it takes a position switch? And can Chase Claypool be more consistent and productive?
Finding the right quarterback, though, can mask a lot of problems. If the Steelers do draft a quarterback this year, the tea leaves are indicating that their top choice would be Liberty’s Malik Willis, though more recent mock drafts have him going out of their range. Of course, there’s still a long way before the Combine takes place, nevermind the actual draft.