The signs are subtle, but unmistakable. The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun the process of moving on from the so called “Killer B’s”. This once vaunted offense has never been able to carry this team to a Super Bowl, and now the team is preparing to move on. Martavis Bryant has been traded, and Le’Veon Bell will be playing his last season in black and gold. Antonio Brown will turn 30 in July. While he is still at the top of his game, how much longer can we expect him to play at this level? The same holds true for Roehtlisberger, who just turned 36 in March. His retirement talk clearly ramped up the Steelers search for his successor. Maybe that’s the reason right there in a nutshell. Despite all the talent the “killer bees” brought to the table, the amount of drama that went with it may have finally reached it’s breaking point.
The Steelers brass reached a fork in the road this offseason. They had two options, either go all in for one more run with this group or quietly start the rebuild. Trading Martavis Bryant told us everything we needed to know. The rebuild has begun. The team will tell you they simply couldn’t pass up on the value of a third round pick in exchange for Bryant. The fact is however, that draft pick will not come anywhere close to helping them in 2018 the way Bryant would have. Ironically, or maybe not, they used the newly acquired pick on what could eventually be Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement in Mason Rudolph. For all the talk of Roethlisberger playing three or four more seasons, his contract only runs through 2019. There has been zero talk of extensions from the Steelers to his point. One has to wonder if Big Ben will be the next “Killer B” casualty. Antonio Brown is signed through 2021, and seems to be the one player in this group that will remain through the transition. The team does however have an out after the 2020 season, with a dead cap hit of $14 million. As long as Brown plays at this level, that is unlikely to happen.
It seemed inevitable after the 2015 season that this group of offensive talent would win one, if not multiple championships. What followed was a never ending stream of injuries, drug suspensions, and embarrassing incidents that derailed a potential blockbuster offense. It’s a sad story of missed opportunities. From Le’veon Bell’s injuries, suspensions, and hold-outs to Martavis Bryant’s year long suspension. From Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement talk to Antonio Brown’s Facebook live incident, it was just one thing after another. Clearly now Steelers management has had enough and decided it’s time to pull the plug. One by one we will see the members of the “Killer Bees” fall. What remains of this group has one last year to win a championship. If history is any indicator, we shouldn’t be overly optimistic.