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Should Steelers Trade for NY Jets QB Sam Darnold This Offseason?

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It is is no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is getting up there in age and carries the burden of a significant cap hit going forward.

With the 38-year-old approaching the end of his 17th season and a year remaining on his contract, some are suggesting the Steelers should make a trade to acquire his successor, including an anonymous NFL executive.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, an executive from an NFC club suggested that Pittsburgh should explore a trade for New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and groom him as Roethlisberger’s heir.

Whether Roethlisberger plays out the remainder of his contract or signs an extension this offseason, he is going to cost the Steelers a pretty penny. The anonymous executive told Fowler that the most prudent move for the club would be to have Roethlisberger play out the remaining year of his contract under the $41.25 million cap hit, while simultaneously preparing Darnold for the right time.

This, the executive says, would both keep the relationship between the Steelers and Roethlisberger intact, while also securing their future.

“Darnold needs to be repaired and that would help a team buy low,” the executive told Fowler. “It probably wouldn’t cost a team much draft capital, and he could use a year behind the scenes with an established organization, but there’s still talent there. A lot of people are high on his skill set. That’s (a setup) that would keep Roethlisberger and the Steelers together without a long-term commitment.”

The Jets may have missed out on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, but that does not mean they are content with Darnold moving forward, as they will have their pick of any of the other available quarterbacks this draft cycle, including Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

Selected with the third pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of USC, Darnold has been inconsistent over his first three seasons, mainly a product of the inept Jets and a lack of weapons.

He has thrown for 7,831 yards with 44 touchdowns and 37 interceptions in three years in New York.

Roethlisberger looked strong to start the year, coming off an elbow injury that ended his 2019 season, but sputtered over the last few weeks, which raised concerns about his long-term outlook as the Steelers quarterback.

The two-time Super Bowl champ struggled over Pittsburgh’s recent long streak, completing just 58% of his passes for 221 yards per game with five touchdowns and four interceptions. Roethlisberger did turn things around in the second half of Sunday’s comeback win over the Indianapolis Colts, finishing with 342 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Regardless of how this season ends, Roethlisberger is set to turn 39 in March, and the Steelers still do not have a bonafide answer at quarterback for the future.

Darnold may or may not be the answer, but the clock is still ticking on the Steelers finding an heir apparent all the same.

Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steelers Announce Donation to Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation

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The Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster have announced a $10,000 donation to the Ryan Shazier Fund for Spinal Rehabilitation, the latest installment in their Social Justice Grant program.

Smith-Schuster donated $5,000, a contribution which the Steelers organization matched.

Shazier’s trials and tribulations are well-documented, having suffered a career-ending spinal cord injury in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017.

The former Pro Bowler inspired millions throughout his recovery journey, and has turned his misfortune into an opportunity to help others, starting his foundation in November.

“My foundation is about people dealing with spinal cord issues. I dealt with the issue myself. I understand how much support and care you need for those with spinal cord issues,” Shazier told Steelers.com. “Sometimes people don’t get the right amount of care or support or rehab they need. I started this to give them more support, the caregivers more support and help them get more rehab. You always have to do some kind of rehab when injured. For spinal cord, usually you only get 30 sessions of rehab. That’s like trying to teach your kid to walk again in 30 sessions. That is almost impossible.”

For Shazier, it is extra special to have a former Steeler teammate in Smith-Schuster and the organization supporting his cause.

“I am truly thankful for this,” Shazier told Steelers.com. “It means a lot. It lets you know the relationships you built while playing with guys, guys who are from different backgrounds and different parts of the world, really mean something. You have relationships that go beyond football.”

“This doesn’t just mean a lot to mean personally, though. It means a lot because it’s going to help so many people who are going through the same thing I have gone through. JuJu has firsthand experience seeing what I have gone through when we played together. It’s amazing to have someone like that, someone who was a teammate not just support me, but support others.”

Selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Shazier was selected to two Pro Bowls over his four-year career, tallying 299 combined tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and seven interceptions.

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Report: Steelers Interview Former Packers OL Coach James Campen

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly interviewing veteran offensive line coach James Campen for their vacancy at the same position, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.

Campen is most known for his tenure with the Green Bay Packers, where he served as the club’s offensive line coach from 2007 to 2018. He additionally served as Green Bay’s run game coordinator in 2018, and won Super Bowl XLV over the Steelers in 2012.

He was also the associate head coach and offensive line coach under Freddie Kitchens with the Cleveland Browns in 2019.

Campen was most recently the offensive line coach for the Los Angeles Chargers last season under former head coach Anthony Lynn, but was not retain when Lynn was fired.

The Steelers are looking to fill the vacancy left by former offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, who, along with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, did not have his contract renewed following the 2020 season.

Pittsburgh officially announced the promotion of quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to offensive coordinator on Monday, even though reports indicated head coach Mike Tomlin wanted to first hire the team’s next offensive line coach.

Campen is just the second reported candidate the Steelers have interviewed for the opening. They also reportedly spoke to Detroit offensive line coach Hank Fraley, who has since been retained by new Lions head coach Dan Campbell.

The Steelers’ next offensive line coach will have their hands full from the jump, as they will be tasked with righting an aging unit that produced the league’s worst rushing attack in 2020.

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Report: Former Steelers OL Coach Shaun Sarrett Joining LA Chargers

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Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett is reportedly joining the Los Angeles Chargers as their assistant offensive line coach, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Sarrett, along with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, did not have his contract renewed by Pittsburgh following the 2020 season.

Lackluster play along the offensive line was one of the Steelers’ greatest obstacles in 2020, as the team finished with the league’s worst rushing offense averaging an abysmal 3.6 yards per carry.

Pittsburgh did protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger well, but he rarely faced pressure with the Steelers’ quick-strike passing game, likely by design given the offensive line’s limitations.

Sarrett spent the last nine season in Pittsburgh, taking over for his mentor Mike Munchak as offensive line coach in 2019. Prior, he had served as an offensive assistant (2012-17) and assistant offensive line coach (2018).

The Steelers have reportedly interviewed a pair of candidates to replace Sarrett thus far, most recently speaking with former long-time Green Bay Packers offensive line coach James Campen on Wednesday.

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