(Free Agent Scorecard: 1 unrestricted –
There is an undeniable love-to-hate-Landry faction among Steelers fans, but it’s actually irrational and it’s not at all reflective of how the team perceives him. The Steelers didn’t draft Jones in the fourth round in 2013 with the idea they were selecting the eventual successor to
For the love-to-hate-Landry faction, this is the guy. The savior. The one on whom they’re pinning their hopes. Claimed off waivers on Aug. 31, Mettenberger was insurance against the Steelers having to re-do 2015 at the quarterback position, where a cluster of injuries had them starting three different guys. Mettenberger came to Pittsburgh with 10 NFL starts, and in those games he completed 181-for-304 (59.4 percent) for 2,025 yards, with 10 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a rating of 75.3. His team’s record in those games was 0-10. Because he wasn’t claimed by the Steelers until the final day in August, Mettenberger didn’t get any time with the team at training camp or during the four preseason games, because the preseason ended the next night in Carolina against the Panthers. Once OTAs start, then even more so at Saint Vincent College, will be when the Steelers get their first real look at Mettenberger trying to do the things they want their quarterbacks to do. The Steelers figure to bring four quarterbacks to Latrobe, and Coach Mike Tomlin is going to give Ben Roethlisberger the occasional day off. That will provide Mettenberger a chance to compete for a roster spot, for the backup job – with Jones provided he re-signs, or with whomever the team might bring to camp if Jones doesn’t – but he is not an heir apparent either.
He is their guy. In a professional football sense, they are married – for better or worse, in sickness and in health, until retirement do they part. But the “when” issue with regards to that retirement came to the forefront when Roethlisberger himself introduced it during his regular weekly segment on a Pittsburgh sports talk radio show. On Jan. 31, Steelers President Art Rooney II was asked about Roethlisberger’s plans. “I talked to Ben. We had a good conversation,” Rooney said. “He’s, I think, at that stage of his career that those are thoughts I think you have. Personally, I expect that he will be back. But that’s going to have to be his decision.” The decision to retire figures to come sooner rather than later for any professional athlete set to turn 35 in March, but he has three seasons left on his current contract and would be owed $46 million in salary and roster bonuses over that time, when he would be 37-going-on-38 years old. Barring injury and based on his current level of play, that could be doable, but it is going to have to be Roethlisberger’s decision.