“I talked to Ben and we had a good conversation,” Rooney told reporters, including Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, on Tuesday. “I think he’s at that stage in his career that those are thought I think you have. I personally expect that he’ll be back, but that’s going to be his decision.”
With the offseason approaching, the Steelers unsurprisingly want an answer from the 34-year-old Roethlisberger sooner than later, per Rooney, who noted that “if he decided to retire, that would modify our plans greatly.” Even if Roethlisberger comes back for a 14th year, the Steelers seem intent on drafting a quarterback – something they haven’t done since they selected pending free agent Landry Jones in the fourth round in 2013.
“In terms of just going forward, look, I think the quarterback position is a position you have to make sure you have some depth there, and we haven’t drafted a quarterback for several years, and we’re probably due to look at the position,” stated Rooney.
Pittsburgh is slated to pick seven times – including 30th overall – in this year’s draft, which might feature one of the worst quarterback classes in recent memory. But regardless of who lines up under center for the Steelers in the coming years, he’ll likely have superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown in the fold as his No. 1 target. While Brown has caused some issues behind the scenes, the four-time 100-catch man is “certainly a player that we would like to have on the team for a while,” per Rooney. Brown is scheduled to enter a contract year, but the Steelers could make him the league’s highest-paid wideout via an extension sometime this offseason.
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