It’s that time of year again. Free agency is creeping up in just a couple of weeks, so before we get there, we’ll get going over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, position by position, making an assessment of what kind of shape they’re in, trying to figure out how they might, or should, attack the roster on that basis.
The Steelers are likely to be subject to more change than they are used to this year, with more than a dozen players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including numerous starters. Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement looms large over all discussions for the foreseeable future.
Total Positional Figure: 3*
Mason Rudolph: It is, until further notice, the Mason Rudolph show. The fifth-year veteran is currently in the driver’s seat for the Steelers’ starting quarterback position heading into this offseason, though it is an offseason during which they have already vowed to substantially address the quarterback position, committing to adding two more quarterbacks from the outside. At least one of them is bound to be a significant name, either as a veteran or rookie.
*Dwayne Haskins: Signed in January of last year, Haskins is expected to be retained as a restricted free agent, hence the asterisk, that intention having already been declared by general manager Kevin Colbert. He will have a second offseason to see if he can push Rudolph in the depth chart, this time potentially for dibs at a starting role.
Joshua Dobbs: Dobbs spent the 2021 season on the Reserve/Injured List, and he will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks. There have been no indications that the team intends to retain him, but he can always be added back later in the offseason, most likely.
Ben Roethlisberger: While it is unknown whether or not he has formally filed the official paperwork, Roethlisberger has already announced his retirement after 18 seasons. I have had the privilege of covering him for this outlet for half of that time. All I can say is I wonder when I’ll be covering another franchise quarterback.
Well, it’s quite simply wide open, isn’t it? Okay, they’re probably not going to get deep into any trade market, and certainly not one that would require them to give up multiple first-round draft picks for the likes of Derek Carr, or a young star like Deshaun Watson who is littered with off-the-field concerns (a reminder, that the Steelers did try to trade Roethlisberger when he had his own incidents). But beyond that, this should be an interesting offseason.
Already, there have been reports about the Steelers being interested in numerous names, including one they would have to trade for in Jimmy Garoppolo. Others recently noted who will be free agents are Mitchell Trubisky, Jameis Winston, and Teddy Bridgewater.
I think that’s probably one of the more realistic groups of names I’ve seen, and signing any of them still leaves the draft wide open, too. You’re not going to shy away from a quarterback you love in the draft because you signed Teddy Bridgewater, but if you do, then it takes the pressure off of a Malik Willis or a Desmond Ridder from having to start right away, unless he earns it.
One thing I believe at this point is that Mason Rudolph will not be the Steelers’ opening-day quarterback. I am becoming increasingly confident that the Steelers will acquire both an established veteran and a rookie Day 1 or Day 2 draft pick.