Three years after the Pittsburgh Steelers reportedly considered washing their hands of Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback made it clear Tuesday that he hopes to spend the rest of his career with the same organization.
"I want to pass Terry Bradshaw by getting more Super Bowl wins," Roethlisberger said, via Steelers public relations manager Burt Lauten. "That's our expectations in Pittsburgh. ... There is no other franchise I would rather play for than the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Big Ben needs three more rings to dethrone Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Even with the backing of one of the NFL's most consistently competitive franchises, that's a tall order. The Steelers' defensive nucleus is declining with age while the offense just lost its top playmaker to the Miami Dolphins.
Simply put, the pipeline has run dry. Once held up as the draft-and-develop model, the Steelers now have just five players with more than 10 career starts from the draft classes of 2008 to 2012 . To put that in perspective, the Indianapolis Colts have four players who have started at least nine games (plus T.Y. Hilton, who was the team's second-leading receiver) from the 2012 draft class alone.
Even if Roethlisberger plays at an MVP level for the next half-decade, he could be the one player keeping this team afloat. The surrounding talent doesn't support an annual run at the Lombardi Trophy.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.