For well over a decade, the Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to worry about finding a franchise quarterback.
This is thanks in part to a miraculous fall of Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 NFL Draft, a Tommy Maddox injury early in the 2004 season and what eventually turned into a Hall of Fame career for the Miami (OH) product.
For the last few years, Roethlisberger has dominated offseason headlines with uncertainty (drummed up by himself) with potential talks of retirement. Whatever talk ensued, however, number seven trotted out for the first game of the season every time.
There's been no clear vision of Roethlisberger's final season in Pittsburgh, despite the quarterback inching closer towards retirement the last few seasons. No Chicago Bulls-type Last Dance scheduled, at least for the time being.
In recent memory, it felt as if the Steelers' front office has waited on the green light from Roethlisberger to proceed moving forward. Roethlisberger has again expressed his desire to return to the team, this time for a potential last season in 2021.
Yet the ball is no longer in his court, as Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it very clear Roethlisberger's spot on the team hasn't been granted quite yet.
"As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers," Colbert said to media on Wednesday. "He met with Coach Tomlin, he met with Art Rooney, he met with myself shortly after the season ended and he reiterated to us that he wanted to continue to play and we told him quite frankly that we have to look at this current situation."
The situation? A $41 million dollar cap hit that happens to be the highest in the league, although Roethlisberger has been adamant he doesn't care about his pay, and his current cap figure can be alleviated a few different ways by the team.
You'll see arguments for keeping Roethlisberger and vice-versa, and quite frankly, both sides have legitimate cases. Nobody on the Steelers' current roster is better equipped to lead a team like Roethlisberger, yet his play down the stretch (granted a bad run game and the league's highest drop rate from his receivers didn't help) showed Roethlisberger doesn't exactly age like fine wine.
This isn't an advocation to lean one way or another. This is an advocation to make a decision sooner rather than later.
Should Roethlisberger be granted another season, he'll be learning a new playbook with newly promoted offensive coordinator Matt Canada taking the helm and will be working with a new center to take snaps from. Needless to say, Roethlisberger will need all time possible to work with both in what looks to be another offseason with little to no physical reps prior to the season.
Should the Steelers decide to move on, Pittsburgh's starting quarterback would be open for the first in a very long time, with a huge decision to be made. Whether that be anybody on the current roster, a free agent, or even a selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Steelers will need ample time to figure the best course of action moving forward.
It's now been over a month since Pittsburgh's embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns, and it appears the Steelers have not the slightest idea of who will take the first snap of next season, although the guestimates of everyone else are welcomed.
Whether Pittsburgh's 2021 starting quarterback is a familiar face or not, it'd be quite beneficial for everybody involved to solve that puzzle sooner rather than later.