Those were the words of Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II last month when talking about a contract extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He said that he wants the franchise quarterback to finish his career where he started it.
Fast forward to Wednesday of this week and General Manager Kevin Colbert mimicked that same sentiment during an interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“We all recognize we are very fortunate to have a franchise quarterback,” Colbert said. “He still has a lot of tread on the tires. We feel great about how last season finished and we hope to build on that. It’s unanimous we all want Ben to finish his career here.” - http://tinyurl.com/lho3xsf
To win in the NFL, you need some skill as well as some luck. To win consistently in today's NFL, as in three Super Bowl appearances and two wins in 10 years type of consistently, you need great quarterback play. And the Steelers have great quarterback play.
Last season, despite his horrendous start, ended up having a very good year. He ranked among the top NFL QBs (with a minimum 290 pass attempts) in QB Rating (92.0), touchdown passes (28), passing yards (4,261), completion percentage (64.2%) and in comp. pct. when under pressure (per Pro Football Focus).
Big Ben also played every snap in throwing for those yards while setting a Steelers record for completions in a season (375). He had a 2-to-1 TD/INT ratio and becoming the franchise's career leader in TD passes (219).
Since 2004, his rookie year, Big Ben also ranks fourth among QBs in the regular season with 95 wins (T.Brady-114, P.Manning-113, and D.Brees-100), and second in Super Bowl wins.
Naturally, then, they should and do want to extend him in order to keep him in town. The question is as to when as both Rooney II and Colbert have both been confident yet non-committal.
"When both sides are able to come together on an extension," Rooney II further said. "I don't know when that will be, but there's no doubt we look at Ben as somebody who's going to be here for the long term and hopefully five or more years."
In the meantime, what is known is that, according to Beaver County Times last week, WRs Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye and Justin Brown traveled to Irvine, CA to work with Big Ben.
"It was really about (Roethlisberger) getting a feel for some of us a little bit more," said Moye. This was also done in part because Emmanuel Sanders is not expected to return. - http://tinyurl.com/mng7ntk
As far as what is known that the Steelers as an organization is doing is that they are looking to do something else that will potentially please the franchise passer.
In an interview with Adam Lefkoe of the courier-journal.com, Gerry Dulac reiterated information that If It Ain't Steel had quoted him as saying before - that the Steelers will go after a big/big-play wide receiver early in May's NFL Draft. He elaborated on what he'd formerly said.
"I believe that they are going to target a tall wide receiver in the first round of the draft. .... I don't think there's any question, Adam, that one of the guys they've liked all along is Mike Evans from Texas A&M. He's...a former basketball player, big guy - 6'5", 225 pounds. Goes up and gets the ball, very athletic."
ASIDE: As the NFL Combine has begun its measurements of QBs and WRs, with the actual pageantry beginning this weekend, we now know that Evans is actually 6'4 5/8" and 231 pounds.
Dulac continued with the other WR that he believes the Steelers want to possibly get for Big Ben when he said, "It's hard not to like Sammy Watkins, the kid from Clemson.
As Dulac pointed out, Colbert saw the (currently) 6'1", 205-pound Watkins in person earlier this year and he believes that one of the two is at the top of the Steelers list.
"When Kevin Colbert talks about wide receivers, tall WRs, he talks about guys who can play big. But there's no question the Steelers wants to get a receiver who was tall enough that makes it easier for Ben Roethlisberger to complete passes to."
The only foreseeable problem with this is that I can't see either of those players still around at pick No. 15 where the Steelers sit. Nor will the Steelers reach. If they aren't available, there are several other big WRs who could be gotten between their first and second (46) picks.
Kelvin Benjamin, 6'5"/240 LBs, Florida State: 1st round - A rare combination of size (4% body fat) and speed - says he hopes to run a 4.3/40 at Combine on Sunday. A physical mismatch vs. defensive backs and linebackers. Very smooth with the media at the Combine podium. Says he's "gonna come work everyday." - http://t.co/PAYxJEGbGk
Strong, will go across the middle, great at catching jump-balls at apex (ask Auburn), superb body control, fluid, good separation speed, adjusts and tracks well over his shoulder, very good YAC, and does not go down easy. (Not that I've followed him or anything...)
Allen Robinson, 6'3"/210 LBs, Penn State: 1st-2nd round - 2012 and 2013 Big 10 Receiver of the Year. Third-team AP All-American. "Fluid and flexible athlete for his larger frame with room to get stronger. Deceiving acceleration with sharp cuts to be a dangerous catch-and-go pass catcher," per CBSSports.com
Jordan Matthews, 6'3"/205 LBs, Vanderbilt: 2nd round - Good size/speed combination along with very good his hand/eye coordination and body control. Has pedigree as well: is cousin of Jerry Rice.
More in the coming weeks.