The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph in the third round of last week's NFL draft, but Ben Roethlisberger isn't planning on giving up his starting job anytime soon.
"Well, that's fine. He can do that," Roethlisberger said when asked about the possibility Rudolph could eventually take over as the Steelers starter, per Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But I plan on playing for three to five more years, depending on how the line goes and staying healthy, if I can stay healthy. If he's going to be their guy, that's great, but in my perfect world it's not going to be for a while."
"You know he's able to play. Anytime you get guys to come in, you can try to teach him a little bit, it's a good thing," he said. "I'll do whatever I can to help. I did that with Landry [Jones] and try to help [Josh] Dobbs as much as I can. Landry does a great job at that; he did it last year with Dobbs. It's kind of the backup's role."
Roethlisberger, 36, made his sixth Pro Bowl in the 2017 season, throwing for 4,251 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, also completing 64.2 percent of his passes. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 88.4, fourth among all quarterbacks behind Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
He also ranked as the site's 68th-best player. As PFF's Sam Monson wrote:
"Roethlisberger appeared to have been toying with retirement for a while and his level of play seemed to be waning along with his desire to play, but he has already confirmed his intention to play in 2018 off the back of a major bounceback season. Roethlisberger ended the year with an overall PFF grade of 88.4 and for a lengthy spell in the middle of the year was the best quarterback in the game."
So it's easy to see why Big Ben isn't ready to give up his position. Still, Rudolph gives the Steelers a young quarterback to groom and a nice contingency plan against injury or a change of heart from Roethlisberger on the retirement front.
And if nothing else, if Rudolph develops nicely and the Steelers are convinced Roethlisberger will indeed maintain his level of play for another five years, he could become a solid trade chip, a la Jimmy Garoppolo.
It's a potential win-win for the Steelers, who decided the value was too good to pass on when Rudolph remained on the board at No. 76.
"As we mentioned before, and it's nothing against Landry [Jones] or Josh Dobbs, it's just this kid was available at a very easy selection point and that's a critical position," Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said, per Bouchette. "Where he fits, how quick he fits, coach can address that. We just know it's nice to have good options at the critical position."