Ben is here to stay

This morning I woke up, checked my phone and found out that the old cowboy is staying in Pittsburgh a little longer.

Extending Ben is what the Steelers had to do. They are a franchise that is always in “win now mode” and you simply cannot compete for a Super bowl without a solid quarterback, which is what you have with 7. The extension will allow Roethlisberger to finish off his 30’s as a Steeler, with the deal ending in 2021. Overall the price isn’t too high. However, I am not sold that this is the direction the team needed to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the Steelers have a shot to make the playoffs this year but how much good football does Ben really have left in him? Sure he threw for a career high in yards last year but it came in a season where they didn’t make the playoffs and had two pro-bowl receivers.

Athletes are playing later in life than they ever have. You see this especially at quarterback. Guys like Brady and Brees plan to play well into there 40s. You think, if Ben is on their level why can’t he do the same? Well, to put it simple, Ben is just a different type of player.

Ben has taken a beating in his NFL career. He isn’t like Brady or Brees who sits in the pocket and picks you apart. He is a scrambler, extends plays. As a result he has taken some brutal hit and suffered some serious injuries. He has also played his entire career in the most physical division in football. While TB12 was getting a cake walk through Miami and Buffalo, Ben was getting hit by Ray Lewis and Vontaze Burrfict. At some point the body just cannot keep going, regardless of how well it is protected from a very good offensive line.

Another thing that has helped Brady and Brees find success in the recent years is a solid run game. The Saints and Patriots have a lethal backfield. Sure the Steelers have Conner but that is just one guy. What happens if he goes down (again)?

It will then be on Ben, who is 37, to keep things moving. It was a lot easier when he had Mr. Big Chest to help out but now, we are asking him to be even better with less to work with. This extension really shows that the team is all in on 30 staying healthy and believes that Juju and the rest of the young receivers are able to replace the production of one of the best pass catchers in NFL history.

If it were me, I am not sure if I extend Ben until 2021. I understand what he has done for the franchise and that he gives us the best possible chance to win now. However, looking around at all the needs this team has, is it realistic to think they can put together another Super Bowl run in the next few seasons?

Compare this roster to the ones from 2005, 2009 or even 2011. What area of this team is better than those ones? The O-line is the only major thing that I can think of. All three of those squads had a defense with zero flaws. There are many on this one, even if we have a perfect draft this weekend. Offensively, Conner might be a better back than Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall but it is too early, in my opinion, to say that with confidence.

The receivers on those three teams are hands down better than the ones we have now. Unless Washington steps up and a new rookie ends up being the next diamond in the rough.

I hate to say it but maybe the Ben era should’ve come to an end after this season. Give it one last go and start rebuilding. It would be a very hard goodbye and an extremely unpopular move but you could really fill a lot of holes with that $30 million you’re paying him.

Young quarterbacks aren’t as hard to find as they were the last time the Steelers really needed one in 2003. The rules are set up in a way that makes the adjustment from the college game to the NFL much easier. You could give Rudolph or Dobbs a shot, make a trade or take one in the draft. Would they be better than Ben off the jump? Definitely not. Would they ever be better than Big Ben? Probably not.

But would letting a 38 year-old QB walk next season allow you to put more money toward building a more complete team? Definitely. The Steelers have become a bit more aggressive in the off season. Imagine what they could do with all that cap room. The defense could be built up to become something special again and Ben’s replacement would join a team with a strong O-line, a few studs at the skill positions and a locker room with far less drama.

I guess that wasn’t the vision on the south side. They really believe this group can still win a Lombardi. I’m not sure how but I respect their dedication. I really hope I am wrong. I hope this blog gets thrown in my face as the Steelers ride down the Blvd of the Allies in their seventh championship parade. I hope they didn’t just extend Ben to prolong a period of above average football with no real shot at the highest goal.

Either way, I will always cheer for the Black and Gold and I will always root for 7. He is our guy and will be until 2021. He is responsible for many good moments and the front office believes he can still deliver a few more. I will be pulling for his old ass on Sundays, like I have been for nearly two decades.

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