Ben Roethlisberger’s career in the NFL is over after 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Season 18 was season one for Kendrick Green, the 2021 third-round draft pick out of Illinois, who snapped the ball to the future Hall of Famer for his final season, wearing the same jersey number as nine-time Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who preceded him.
Like with the center position last year, there are no successors at quarterback for the Steelers, though there are theoretical options. Mason Rudolph is currently the only quarterback under contract for the upcoming season, but that will change over the coming months. So what is next for the team at quarterback?
“I’m excited to see who it’s going to be”, Green recently told Jeremy Werner for the Illini Inquirer. “Y’all know just as much as me. In case y’all were going to ask me that I have no idea. I’m excited to see what happens. I think playing with Ben my first year, a future Hall of Fame, was a blessing. I’m going to miss him. I learned a lot from him. He definitely helped me out getting my foot in the door”.
As anybody who has been following along already knows, the Steelers have been connected to just about any quarterback who has even the faintest chances of moving this offseason, at one point or another, most recently with some late-night reports yesterday indicating that they were in the market for the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
No matter who comes in for the 2022 season, however, I think there will be a different relationship than Green had with Roethlisberger, both of whom showed a mutual appreciation for one another early on—which was significant, given how close Roethlisberger and Pouncey were.
Entering training camp at the end of July, the quarterback told reporters that he was impressed with Green’s passion for the game, and that he had stayed in the area over the break to work with the coaches, adding that he checked in on the rookie himself. “He’s taking this personal, and I think he wants to be the best”, he said.
In late August, the rookie center credited the veteran quarterback with being open-minded about bringing him along and getting him up to speed. “He’s been helping me out a ton, just asking questions about the offense in general. Obviously, he wants us to play well. Ben’s been a great help, I would say, for me at least”, he said.
The Illinois alumnus started most of the season before suffering an ankle late in the year. He dressed as an emergency backup for the final few games, including the postseason, which general manager Kevin Colbert insisted was not a benching but rather a product of his health.
Still, it’s safe to assume that the starting center position, at least in my estimation, will be subject to competition later this year, whether that’s with a free agent, a draft pick, or even simply J.C. Hassenauer, who finished the season on the field snapping the ball to Roethlisberger.