Ben Roethlisberger Announces Return to Steelers for 14th Season

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FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts during the first half against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Featured ColumnistApril 7, 2017

The avoided disaster Friday when announced he intends to play in 2017:

Following Pittsburgh’s defeat to the in the AFC Championship Game, Roethlisberger left the door open for possibly walking away from the game.

I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” he said in with The Cook and Poni Show on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh (via .com’s ). “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”’s Adam Rank and the Indianapolis Star‘s Gregg Doyel questioned whether Big Ben would follow through with retirement:

It would’ve been surprising to see Roethlisberger walk away now. At 35, he’s clearly in the twilight of his career, but he should still have a few more productive seasons left in the tank.

He continued to be one of the NFL’s better QBs in 2016, throwing for 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He also helped the Steelers win the AFC North for the second time in three years.

There’s no clear succession plan to replace Roethlisberger when the time comes. Landry Jones has 1,071 passing yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions in 16 appearances. He’s 28, so it’s not as if he’s a young quarterback on the rise. Pittsburgh also has Zach Mettenberger on the roster, but he struggled mightily when handling starting duties for the .

Relying on either to be the starting quarterback would’ve been far from ideal for the Steelers, who will have playoff aspirations in 2017.

Roethlisberger’s flirtation with retirement could be the push the front office needs to start looking at the long term. Because of Roethlisberger’s consistency and durability, Pittsburgh has had the luxury of largely ignoring the quarterback position for over a decade.

That can’t be the case any longer.

The Steelers don’t need to trade up to select Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer, but general manager Kevin Colbert would be wise to approach the 2017 draft in search of a young quarterback whom the team can groom to be Roethlisberger’s successor. 

Patrick Mahomes, Brad Kaaya and Josh Allen would all be sensible options late on Day 1 or in the second round. 

The Steelers’ pursuit of a seventh Super Bowl title in 2017 shouldn’t preclude the team from looking toward 2018 and beyond. 

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