The Pittsburgh Steelers made their major off season move by signing quarterback Ben Bothlisberger to an eight year 102 million dollar deal. Signing Ben to a long-term contract is by far the most important move the team could have made this off season.
While handing out 102 million dollars deal is never a simple, this move was expected, and relative to all else on the team’s off season agenda, it was easy.
- Which is to say, they may have signed Ben to a long term contract, they have yet to secure his future.
Securing Ben’s future means shoring up the offensive line. If they don’t do that, all is for naught. The salary cap era is rife with examples of teams that mortgaged themselves to sign a star signal caller, only to fail to protect him. The Cleveland Browns and Tim Couch, the Houston Texans and David Carr, and the St. Louis Rams with Marc Bugler all should ring bells (no pun intended.)
There’s been talk on some internet boards that the Steelers should have signed Alan Faneca and let Ben go because “we are a smash mouth, pound the ball team….”
Winning on offensive does begin with the offensive line. And it is true that you don’t need a great quarterback to win a Super Bowl. It’s also true that a solid offensive line can give an average or even good quarterback a huge lift. The Redskins of 1987 and 1991 and the Ravens of 2000 are perfect examples.
But the suggestion that we should have signed Fanaca and let Ben go is pure folly. A good offensive line is easier to find and develop than a franchise quarterback. And Ben is a franchise quarterback.
He had a strong supporting cast as a rookie, but so have other rookies, and no other rookie went 15-1. He carried the Steelers to the Super Bowl XL in 2005. In 2007 he bounced back phenomenally from an awful year behind a horrible offensive line and with a clock-eating running game.
- Ben is the kind of quarterback that a team only gets a shot at once in a generation.
When you find a player like that, you keep him. Pittsburgh is doing that.
Now they have to protect him, which, given the immediacy of the Steelers needs and their limited salary cap space, will be complicated. Time will reveal how the Steelers brain trust goes about protecting Ben, but regardless, they took care of the first order of business today.
They have a winner, and they’re keeping him.