Pittsburgh Steeler Ben Roethlisberger has been playing at a high level in the NFL for the past thirteen years. The future Hall of Fame quarterback just finished this season with a very disappointing loss in the AFC championship game to the New England Patriots with a final score of 36-17. He had a pretty good overall game but the loss of star running back Bell to a groin injury in the first half is what ultimately doomed the Steelers. Now that the season is over there are questions surrounding "Big Ben's" future.

Big Ben to mull future in offseason

Ben Roethlisburger has been the face of the Pittsburgh Steeler franchise for so long that it would be hard to imagine the team without him. As strange as it would be to see a Steeler team without its all pro quarterback, the reality is that it could be a realistic possibility as soon as next year. On the "Cook and Poni" show Tuesday, Ben had this to say about his future,"“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options. To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season.”

There is a lot to be said about his statement regarding next year. Could he seriously be considering retirement at this point in his career?

Roethlisberger is 34 and has already won two Super Bowls. Even though quarterbacks can usually play a little bit longer than players at other positions, maybe "Big Ben" is ready to start his life after football. He could also just be frustrated after a tough loss in the AFC Championship and just needs some time to get over it.

Nevertheless, the Steelers' organization should definitely not take his statements lightly, especially if he's serious.

Where do Steelers go from here?

If Ben Roethlisberger does indeed decide to call it quits, what direction does Pittsburgh go? As of right now their contingency plan is backup quarterback Landry Jones. While Jones is a serviceable backup is the team ready to make him the leading man going forward?

More than likely not, which means they would probably have to look at a quarterback in the 2017 NFL draft, which happens to be loaded with prospects. If Ben decides to come back and give it another try, his time in the league is still limited, which means the Steelers need to plan for his departure either way.

Roethlisberger just completed the first year of a new four year deal and may just play the rest of the contract out before he retires. If that is the case then the Pittsburgh Steelers have roughly three years to draft and groom his replacement, which means they need to get started on that plan right away. Roethlisberger will take his time and decide his NFL future this offseason and we all should get more clarity in the coming months. The Steelers would definitely like some clarity before the NFL draft, so that they can make the necessary moves.