The Pittsburgh Steelers have had very little quarterback problems in the last thirteen years since Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. Now at thirty-five years old and a serious look at retirement this offseason, Roethlisberger seems to be taking his career one year at a time from here on out. The veteran signal caller is still clearly one of the top quarterbacks in the league, so what will keep Roethlisberger wanting to play? Perhaps the five men that line up in front of him.
It is no secret that Roethlisberger has had more than his fare share of injuries over the course of his career. It is also no secret that until offensive coordinator Todd Haley arrived in 2012, Roethlisberger was one of the most hit quarterbacks in the league.
In 2014, the Steelers brought in a new face to coach the offensive line in Mike Munchak. Since his arrival, the offensive line has gradually became one of the best units in the league.
In a radio interview this month, right tackle Marcus Gilbert said he has not taken any breaks this offseason in efforts to come back even stronger next season. Going into his seventh season, Gilbert said the bad taste in his mouth from the team’s loss in the AFC Championship continues to stay with him. Gilbert went onto say he has taken up boxing this offseason because he feels it will help him with both pass and run blocking.
When asked about Roethlishberger’s look into retirement, Gilbert said they must keep their veteran leader upright throughout the length of the season.
One of Roethlisberger’s former offensive lineman had very similar things to say when it came to prolonging his career.
“He’s passionate about playing, but one thing that keeps his fire going is that offensive line,” Willie Colon told Pro Football Talk. “You have to worry about the health of Ben Roethlisberger. Can you keep him upright, can he stay healthy for the duration? They have the offensive line, they have the pieces around him to make it work.”
No matter what the result of the 2017 season may be, one can only expect Roethlisberger will again take another look into retirement. The future hall of famer will still have another two years on his contract after the season concludes and if he can still play at a high level, the Steelers will want Big Ben back for a fifteenth season. If the offensive line can keep their man on his feet and away from injury, it may make that decision to return a little easier.