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Ben Roethlisberger: Don't plan on Mason Rudolph replacing me for a while

PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger might be quarterbacking the Steelers at age 40.

Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he plans to play three to five more years if he stays healthy and his offensive line is intact.

The Steelers selected Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph with the 76th overall pick in last week's NFL draft, raising questions about whether the franchise had found an heir apparent to Big Ben.

"If he's going to be their guy, that's great; but in my perfect world, it's not going to be for a while," Roethlisberger told the newspaper.

Roethlisberger, who turned 36 in March, flirted with retirement after the 2016 season but started to entertain the prospect of future years last season. He publicly committed to 2018 minutes after a playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Center Maurkice Pouncey, his best friend on the team, told ESPN that Roethlisberger had informed him that he wanted to play three more seasons.

Roethlisberger has two years left on his contract, and team president Art Rooney II said this offseason that the team is prepared to discuss a contract extension with the quarterback.

"I went and talked to Art and Coach [Mike Tomlin] and coach Randy [Fichtner] and basically said, listen, I can't control -- barring major injuries, barring things at home, and things out of your control -- the way my body feels," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. "The way our O-line is put together, as good as they are, they kept me healthy as can be the last couple of years. I really feel I can play this game another three to five years."

Roethlisberger validated that notion with his play late last season. After a slow start to the season's first half, Roethlisberger averaged nearly 350 passing yards and three touchdowns per game over the final seven outings. His entire starting offensive line is under contract, as are weapons Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

"I'll still take it one year at a time and give it everything I have that one year, but that's what I feel comfortable telling [the Steelers]," Roethlisberger said about his time frame.