Sports | January 22, 2021 2:57 pm

Are Steelers Preparing for Life Without Ben Roethlisberger by Adding Dwayne Haskins?

Roethlisberger will be 39 by the time NFL training camps kick off this summer

Are Steelers Preparing for Life Without Ben Roethlisberger By Adding Dwayne Haskins?
Ben Roethlisberger warms up before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Philip Rivers announcing his retirement earlier this week and Drew Brees likely to do the same in the coming weeks or months, the old quarterback guard of the NFL is beginning to get quite depleted. Two members of that guard, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, will play this weekend for the NFC Championship while a third, Ben Roethlisberger, will watch from home.

No matter what happens in Sunday’s game, Brady and Rodgers will almost certainly be back next season. But even though he won’t be playing, Roethlisberger’s status for next season seems far less certain.

Roethlisberger, who will be 39 by the time NFL training camps kick off this summer, has played 17 seasons in the league. While he’s taken a beating throughout his career, he’s also been fairly durable, and finished this season healthy.

But the Steelers made the surprising move of signing former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who was released by Washington after less than two seasons with the team, to a reserve/future contract Thursday after the quarterback met with a group of Pittsburgh coaches on a visit.

The signing of Haskins seems to indicate the Steelers, who also have backup quarterback Mason Rudolph under contract for another season, could be preparing for life without Roethlisberger.

As well they should.

Though he went 12-3 as a starter in the regular season and had fairly decent numbers (65.6 completion percentage, 399 completions, 33 touchdowns, 10 interceptions), Roethlisberger was brutal in Pittsburgh’s 48-37 loss against Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. He may have thrown for more than 500 yards and four touchdowns in the defeat, but he matched those passing scores with four interceptions and routinely missed receivers, had balls batted at the line and was generally inaccurate.

Roethlisberger’s performance in the playoff game was similar to the way he performed at points during the regular season and was generally just an indicator that, as talented as he once was and may still be, his best days are far behind him. A two-time Super Bowl winner, Roethlisberger has not won a playoff game since the 2016 season and has not made a Pro Bowl in three seasons. Clearly, even if it hasn’t fallen off a cliff, his play has slipped.

That was evident down the stretch: including the playoff game, Roethlisberger tossed 15 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions over the final eight games of the season after compiling a 22-4 ratio over Pittsburgh’s first nine games. And there’s little reason to believe that trend will reverse itself, because while Brady and Rodgers look to be in better physical shape than they were earlier in their careers, Roethlisberger, who wasn’t all that fit to begin with, appears to be in worse.

In and of itself that might not be a huge problem, but it indicates that Roethlisberger, who is on the books for $19 million but carries a whopping $41 million cap hit next season, isn’t all that interested in putting in the work anymore.

From what we know of his time in Washington, Haskins isn’t either, so he probably is not Pittsburgh’s answer at QB. But as his signing does show, the Steelers are looking for one, as Roethlisberger may no longer be it either.

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