The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping they found their quarterback of the future in Mason Rudolph.
Steelers starting QB Ben Roethlisberger hopes that is the case as well, but with one caveat: He wants the team's newly minted third-round draft pick to understand that the operative word is ... future.
"Well, that's fine. He can do that," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette of Pittsburgh on Tuesday of the possibility of Rudolph being the long-range answer at quarterback. "But I plan on playing for three to five more years, depending on how the line goes and staying healthy, if I can stay healthy.
"If he's going to be their guy, that's great, but in my perfect world it's not going to be for a while."
The desire to continue playing that long is a marked turnaround for Roethlisberg, who said last July that he was contemplating retirement as he prepared to enter his 14th NFL season.
However, Roethlisberger played in every game in 2017 until sitting out the regular-season finale and earned his sixth Pro Bowl selection, throwing for 4,251 yards with 28 touchdowns versus 14 interceptions. He also became the first QB in history with three 500-yard games.
"I went and talked to (team officials) and basically said, 'Listen, I can't control -- barring major injuries, barring things at home, and things out of your control -- the way my body feels. The way our O-line is put together, as good as they are, they kept me healthy as can be the last couple years. I really feel I can play this game another three to five years.'
"I'll still take it one year at a time and give it everything I have that one year, but that's what I felt comfortable in telling them."