Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t even announced that he’s retiring yet, and already Las Vegas is placing odds on who the Pittsburgh Steelers will name his heir apparent in 2022.
Mason Rudolph — Roethlisberger’s backup since the Steelers traded up to draft him in 2018 — is currently the odds-on favorite (+275) to take the reigns next season.
In 10 starts over three seasons, Rudolph has been unimpressively average. He couldn’t even lead the Steelers to a victory over the (at the time) winless Detroit Lions. Overall, Rudolph’s record is 5-4-1 with 2,366 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, per Pro Football Reference.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the least splashy teams in the NFL. The team stunned the NFL world in 2019 when they made a rare trade for Miami Dolphin’s safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in-season. Because the Steelers so often take the promote-from-within approach to coaches and players, it’s hard to see them making a move for a free agent like Jameis Winston and even harder to see them selling the farm for a player like Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers.
ALL the latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
Vegas likes Vegas quarterback Derek Carr next (+700), closely followed by 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo (+750). Free-agent Jameis Winston is next (+900) with 2021 NFL draft class’ Kenny Pickett and Matt Corral with +1000 odds. Long shot Aaron Rodgers rounds out the candidates at +1600.
Though Carr and Garoppolo are attractive, the cost to trade for them is not. Since neither is a free agent, not only would acquiring one of them demand a package of players and/or draft picks, but they also carry hefty salaries. According to Spotrac, Carr is due $19.77 million and Garoppolo $24.2 million. Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins and Gardner Minshew are other names being tossed around, too.
But who will supplant future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is anybody’s guess at this point. I bet that Vegas is right. As uneventful as naming Rudolph the starter for the 2022 NFL season would be — and Steelers Nation would be up in arms — it’s a very Steelers-like thing to do.
The good thing is, there’s a lot of time between now and September 8.
T.J. Watt Says Ben Roethlisberger Never Addressed Retirement
“That was just all through the media,” Watt told Patrick. “It was never a conversation that we had. [Ben] never addressed the team. I just don’t think he wanted to be a distraction or a farewell tour type of thing. I think he handled it well.”
When Patrick pressed Watt on whether Roethlisberger is indeed retiring, he had this to say: “I don’t know that answer still. I think it’s a little open-ended.”
It wasn’t until March of 2021 that Roethlisberger decided to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers for another season. It would be shocking (and, frankly, sad) if he chooses to stick around any longer.
Big Views for Big Ben
Millions of fans tuned in to watch the dumpster fire that was the January 17 Steelers-Chiefs wild card matchup. According to NFL reporter Dov Kleiman, 29.7 million viewers watched what was likely Ben Roethlisberger’s final game.
It was the most-watched primetime show since the Chiefs-Patriots Super Bowl LV.