The Pittsburgh Steelers looked destined for history, starting the season 11-0 with a hounding defense and a deadly offense led by veteran Ben Roethlisberger. However, the Steelers are spiraling after two straight losses that have exposed the team's flaws.
While Roethlisberger has played well, at almost 39 years old, he's nearing the end of his storied career. The Steelers would be smart to start thinking ahead about their starting quarterback of the future.
With that mind, here are three likely replacement quarterbacks the Steelers can target if Roethlisberger isn't back in 2021.
3. Jameis Winston
A name often connected to the Steelers this past offseason, Jameis Winston doesn't appear likely to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints now that the Taysom Hill era is approaching. The almost 27-year-old QB is only one season removed from leading the league in passing yards (5,109) and throwing for 33 touchdowns while with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is the exact pass-happy QB that would make a transition from Roethlisberger seamless. Although it's concerning Winston couldn't earn the starting role with the Saints with Drew Brees out, his talent is undeniable. Taking a chance on Winston and putting him in the Steelers' system could have a major payoff for Pittsburgh.
2. Sam Darnold
Trading for Sam Darnold is the ultimate forward-thinking move that would put the Steelers in a position to compete long-term after Roethlisberger hangs his cleats up. Yes, he hasn't lived up to his No. 1 pick status. But he's been stranded on New York Jets island with little help. The same quarterback that threw for 7,229 yards and 57 TDs in two seasons at USC is still in there, he just needs a team to unlock him. Pittsburgh is absolutely that team. With Darnold appearing to be on the outs, he'll be available, and for little cost. He'd be an excellent pickup if Big Ben is planning on playing in 2021. Darnold could finally grow with the support of a functional organization, and getting a year to learn behind Roethlisberger would do wonders for finally unlocking his potential.
1. Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford deserves a chance to play for a contender after toiling away with the Detroit Lions. He's looking like a prime trade candidate, and Pittsburgh should explore the chance to scoop him up. Stafford resembles Roethlisberger in his play-through-it mentality and big arm. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has plenty left in the tank and would thrive while being surrounded by the Steelers' weapons. And Pittsburgh's renowned offensive line should keep him healthy after struggling with injuries in recent year, which would only maximize his talent. The Steelers have way too much talent to enter a re-build after Big Ben leaves, and Stafford would keep them firmly in Super Bowl contention.
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