Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, right, will be looking for a starting quarterback for the first time in his 15 seasons with the team with Ben Roethlisberger set to retire. Don Wright/Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — For the first time in Mike Tomlin’s long tenure as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, he enters the offseason unsure of who his starting quarterback will be in the fall.

The only certainty is that it won’t be Ben Roethlisberger, who has given every indication he will retire after an 18-year career.

Maybe it’ll be Mason Rudolph, who has spent four years as an understudy with mixed results and is currently the only quarterback on the roster under contract for next season. Maybe it’ll be Dwayne Haskins, who flamed out in Washington before being given a lifeline by Tomlin last January. Maybe it’ll be a rookie. Or maybe a veteran free agent in need of a job.

To Tomlin, it’s a little exciting. And yeah, maybe a little weird.

“It’s a challenge, man,” Tomlin said Tuesday after his 15th season at the helm ended with a thud in a blowout loss to Kansas City in the opening round of the playoffs. “It kind of makes you uneasy. But I’ve learned to run to those challenges. I’ve learned to appreciate those challenges. The uncertainty surrounding them is inspiring to me in terms of producing work.”

Rudolph is 5-4-1 in his career as a starter, but struggled in his lone extended appearance this season, throwing a touchdown and an interception in an ugly tie with Detroit in November after Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19. Haskins flamed out in less than two seasons with Washington after being taken with the 15th overall pick in 2019 and served as Pittsburgh’s third quarterback in 2021.

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“They’re guys that started,” Tomlin said. “I wouldn’t characterize them as everyday starters … And so they’ll be given an opportunity to establish themselves, and there’s going to be competition.”

Tomlin has made no secret that he’d like to find a quarterback who can move, something that hasn’t been in Roethlisberger’s toolbox for several years.

BROWNS: Defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who was given a second chance by the team after serving jail time, was arrested Monday in Florida on charges of beating a police officer and public exposure.

Police in Deerfield Beach, Florida, said they were responding to a “naked male walking near a school” when an officer approached McDowell, who was sitting on a curb, according to the arrest report. The officer said McDowell stood up, uttered an obscenity at him and “charged at me full speed with a closed fist.”

The officer said he was unable to avoid McDowell’s attack or use any “de-escalation tactics.” McDowell slammed into the officer and punched him in the right eye and on the top of the head, according to the report.

McDowell fled before he was stopped using a stun gun and handcuffed. The officer said his right eye was nearly closed because of swelling from the punches he absorbed in the attack and there is a “likelihood that I sustained permanent injury to my eye.”

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McDowell was charged with aggravated battery on an officer, resisting an officer/obstructing with violence and exposure of sex organs in public. Bail was posted at $25,000. It was unclear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

JAGUARS: Defensive end Lerentee McCray made an obscene hand gesture at a police officer, fled a would-be traffic stop and then reached speeds of 100 mph and crossed three lanes of traffic during an ensuing chase, authorities said.

McCray, 31, was arrested early Sunday, booked in the Lake County Jail and charged with fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement, according to jail and police records. The charge is a second-degree felony. He was released on a $5,000 bond about seven hours later, according to jail records.

CARDINALS: A tough night got tougher for Arizona when Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker was taken off the field on a stretcher following a helmet-to-helmet hit with Rams running back Cam Akers in the third quarter.

Baker – who was evaluated for a concussion – sent out a post on social media late Monday night saying “Thank you all for the prayers. I am doing good.” An Arizona media relations spokesman said Baker was kept overnight at a hospital in Los Angeles and released on Tuesday morning.

The team posted a photo Tuesday of him on a plane flying back to Arizona.

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SEAHAWKS: Seattle fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and passing game coordinator Andre Curtis, the team said.

The firings brought an end to what had been several seasons of continuity on the defensive side. The news was first reported by The Seattle Times.

Norton spent four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, but the final two years were defined by a unit that struggled badly in the early part of the year and progressively got better. Those early struggles during the 2020 and 2021 seasons left the Seahawks well down in the league’s statistical rankings.

Seattle never finished higher than 16th in total defense or 11th in scoring defense during Norton’s tenure. Seattle was 28th in total defense and 11th in scoring defense this season.

BEARS: Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Hampton has been sentenced to one year of probation after pleading guilty to a drunken-driving charge last month in Indiana.

Hampton, 64, had an open jug of wine in his truck and a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when he was stopped by Winfield police in November. Court records from last month showed he pleaded guilty, which an Indiana judge accepted. Under the plea deal, Hampton must also attend a court-ordered substance abuse program, among other things.


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