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Pittsburgh Steelers won't rule out drafting a QB early

Ben Roethlisberger has been a fixture under center for the Pittsburgh Steelers dating to 2004, but is the team beginning to think ahead?

Coming off a disappointing 8-8 campaign, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said on Wednesday the team could see a major roster shakeup during the offseason. Colbert's most surprising revelation came at quarterback, where Pittsburgh is open to drafting a passer in the first round for the first time since 2004.

"We won't close the door on any position in any round," Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We can't ... Once we get into free agency and the draft, I don't see any position that's off limits."

It's notable because the Steelers have publicly swatted down the concept of drafting a quarterback in the early rounds since Roethlisberger was chosen 11th overall in 2004. The team primarily has relied on veterans such as Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich at the position. Roethlisberger has been durable -- and certainly productive -- enough to allow that.

The 30-year-old, two-time Super Bowl winner started 13 games this season, but battled through painful injuries for the second year in a row. Roethlisberger still played at an MVP level for stretches, and Pittsburgh isn't about to uproot him for another signal-caller, but the team acknowledges that its sturdy situation under center can't last forever.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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