PITTSBURGH -- This is the first of a series in which I will examine every position relative to the 2013 season -- and take a look ahead. Let’s start first with the most important position on the field.
2014 free agents: None.
The good: Ben Roethlisberger, one of just three active quarterbacks to play in multiple Super Bowls, may have had the best season of his career. Roethlisberger set a Steelers record for completions in a season (375), and he passed Terry Bradshaw for the most touchdown passes (219) in Steelers history. Roethlisberger thrived in the no-huddle attack that the Steelers used extensively in the second half of the season, and at no other point of his career has he had more ownership of the offense. Roethlisberger turned 32 in March but he is still clearly in his prime, and he played every snap this season, something that bodes well for him holding up as he advances in age.
The bad: Not a lot to quibble with in terms of Roethlisberger, who also nearly set a career-high in passing yards for a season with 4,261. Roethlisberger had some ball control issues early in the season, and he committed four turnovers alone in a 40-23 loss to the Bears. Roethlisberger committed just five turnovers in the Steelers’ final eight games. Despite his production, durability and leadership, the Steelers finished 8-8 for the second consecutive and that is not acceptable to Roethlisberger.
The money (2014 salary-cap numbers): Roethlisberger ($18.9 million), Bruce Gradkowski (1.8 million) and Landry Jones ($604,805). Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team intends to sign Roethlisberger to a contract extension but he did not commit to getting a deal done this offseason. Roethlisberger still has two years left on his contract so there is still plenty of time to get a deal done. It would help the Steelers if they could sign Roethlisberger to a new deal this offseason so they reduce his cap hit the next two years. Gradkowski and Jones are set as the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterback, respectively.
Draft priority: None. Zilch. Zero. The Steelers took Jones with the second of their two fourth-round picks last year and the former Oklahoma star didn’t even dress for a game in his rookie season. The only way a quarterback comes into play in the draft is if a team tries to trade up in the first round and makes the Steelers a deal they can’t refuse for the 15th overall pick.