Steelers’ pick of Mason Rudolph seems to have lit a fire under Ben Roethlisberger

If you're wondering why the Steelers selected a quarterback during the third round of this year's NFL Draft, all you have to do is rewind back to last offseason. 

Back in March 2017, the Steelers had no idea who their quarterback of the future was going to be, and that's because Ben Roethlisberger was contemplating retirement. During the 2017 offseason, Roethlisberger came out of nowhere and admitted that he wasn't sure if he was ever going to play again. 

Obviously, Roethlisberger did end up playing in 2017, but things have't really changed much this offseason. Although there was a report in January that indicated that Big Ben would be playing at least three more years, Roethlsberger shot that down later in the month when he was actually asked about it

"I'm just playing it one year at a time," Roethlisberger said. "I'm excited to come back next year. I know Ed [Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] said that he heard that some guys said something about me playing for another three years. I'm not going to look past one year. I'm going to look forward to next year and give it everything I have."

Basically, if you're the Steelers and you read that comment, then all you can be sure of is that Roethlisberger is committed to playing one more year, which is why the team thought it was necessary to draft Mason Rudolph: They needed to know they had someone in place in case Roethlisberger decided to retire after 2018

Well, guess what? We now know that's definitely not going to happen. The Steelers' decision to draft Rudolph must have sent Big Ben's competitive juices into overdrive because the Steelers quarterback is no longer being coy about his future. As a matter of fact, it's the total opposite. 

In his first interview since the Rudolph pick, Roethlisberger revealed some surprising information: He now wants to play three-to-five more years.

Here was Roethlisberger's reaction on Tuesday, when he was asked about the prospect of Rudolph eventually taking over as the starting quarterback in Pittsburgh.  

"Well, that's fine. He can do that," Roethlisberger told 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."

It's almost crazy how that happens. Three months ago, Roethlisberger didn't want to look past 2018, but now that a rookie quarterback is on the team, he's confident that he can play until he's 41. Keep in mind, before Tuesday Roethlisberger had never given any public indication that he wanted to play that long. 

"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," Roethlisberger said. 

The good news for Big Ben is that Rudolph isn't expecting any help while he learns the playbook

"It's not Ben's job to teach me anything," Rudolph said this week. "It's my job to learn."

Rudolph might actually be the perfect person to take over for Roethlisberger one day, and that's because Rudolph views himself as similar player. During an interview at the NFL combine, the former Oklahoma State quarterback said he was a combination between Peyton Manning and Roethlisberger. 

"I've always said Peyton and Ben, Big Ben, watching the way that he stands in the pocket and delivers the ball, continues to just evade the rush time and time again, so I would say those two guys," Rudolph said when asked to compare himself to an NFL quarterback. 

So how will everything play out for the Steelers over the next few years? Our Ryan Wilson actually took a look at that this week in a piece that you can read by clicking here

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Our Latest Stories