Just in case there were any doubts, the Pittsburgh Steelers really do assume that Ben Roethlisberger’s days as an NFL quarterback have reached an end.
Roethlisberger hasn’t come out and said as much — but following the Steelers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild-Card round on Sunday, well, everyone sort of knows it’s coming. The Big Ben sendoff has already taken place.
“We are proceeding with that assumption,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters, when asked if Roethlisberger won’t return.
That said, everyone is sort of waiting for Roethlisberger to officially announce his retirement. Or at least file his retirement papers with the league office. Or at least buy a rocking chair.
After that, the only question becomes who will replace Roethlisberger. Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert have plenty of options, of course. They could try to find someone in the draft. They could make a trade. They could go after a free agent. Or they could just go with what they already have on the roster.
If it’s the latter, the Steelers will be choosing between Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins. Neither will exactly reignite Steelers Nation, though Rudolph has had his moments.
As an aside, Colbert is expected to retire this offseason as well, leaving Tomlin, a new QB and a new GM to try to return Pittsburgh to true relevancy. Of the four teams in the AFC North, the Steelers have gone the longest without having won a playoff game (2016).
No matter, the Steelers will focus on first things first, and that’s finding a new man under center.
“All options are on the table,” Tomlin said. “I enjoy working with Kevin this time of year.”