Dunlap: Steelers QB Succession Plan Is Simple

Colin Dunlap
April 29, 2020 - 12:15 pm

I’m not understanding any of the controversy. 

What is going on here? Is this even a story? 

Heck, I don’t know --- but that wouldn’t be much of an escape as I don’t know a lot of things. 

Nonetheless Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert joined The Fan Morning Show on Wednesday and the talk obviously got around to the backup quarterback position

There has been a bunch of smoke lately about Jameis Winston, the former signalcaller in Tampa Bay who signed with the New Orleans Saints. One report out of Tampa even went so far as to claim Winston chose the Saints over the Steelers after mulling similar deals from the two organizations and concluding New Orleans was a more conducive place to work. 

Colbert threw water all over this. 

"I can honestly say that we absolutely made no negotiation or offer to a veteran quarterback," the general manager said.

So that’s that. 

On the record.

From the top. 

For the world to hear. 

That ain’t “sources” but the source --- with his name on it. 

Know what, though? I kind of already knew all of this. If you have been listening at all to anything Colbert or Mike Tomlin or owner Art Rooney II has said over the past few months, it would seem making any sort of overtures toward a veteran backup would be straying from cement plans that they have in place --- and have had in place for quite some time. 

You see, the succession plan for the dwindling days of Ben Roethlisberger (and then when he is finished with his career) has been something that is probably one of the clearest lines of communication I have encountered in my time consuming this organization.

From the time the Steelers drafted Mason Rudolph in the third round (76th overall) in the 2018 Draft, they have beaten the drum loudly for and about him. From the very, very beginning Colbert and the brass have told anyone who would listen that they had a “first round grade” on Rudolph and it should have been a tip off to the entire world just how high they were on this guy. 

The design was for him to make a big difference in the future for this franchise. 

And as we sit here today, that still is the plan --- which is why what Colbert said about not trying to chase down a veteran quarterback in free agency should come as zero surprise.

Just to reiterate, the Steelers’ quarterback plan is so simple to see and has been this way since Rudolph’s draft day: 

  • Exhaust every single snap out of the aging Roethlisberger before he calls it quits.
  • Find out in the interim if Rudolph has what it takes to be the next guy after Ben. 
  • If Rudolph is, the Steelers go full-bore with him as the franchise guy when Ben retires.
  • If Rudolph isn’t, the Steelers draft a quarterback in the first round the draft in lockstep with Ben’s retirement. 

This is what it is right now. This is what it always has been from the time Mike Tomlin called Mason Rudolph on that draft day and told him he was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

So the Steelers not pursuing Jameis Winston (or any other veteran quarterback) isn’t news of any sort. It is actually the polar opposite of news. It is the Steelers remaining down the path they have been on.