I don’t think anyone expects Ben Roethlisberger to hang up his cleats this year but given the mini-freak out it caused when he originally said it, being reassured sure is nice.
In Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live chat with the New York Times, the one where he wouldn’t commit to signing a long-term deal with the Pittsburgh Steleers, he seemed extremely confident that Big Ben would return for 2017.
“Big Ben’s coming back so…just know,” Brown responded when asked what it would mean if Roethlisberger retired.
In a follow-up question, Brown confirmed he has talked to Roethlisberger since that time, indicating he has it on good authority his quarterback isn’t going anywhere.
Of course, if Roethlisberger already knows he isn’t retiring, it would call into question the other motives why he brought it up in the first place. Some have speculated his frustration with the way the season ended, Todd Haley’s playcalling, and even Brown’s own distractions, caused him to use the retirement talk as a wake-up call to the organization.
Art Rooney II recently said he “expects [Ben] will be back” though said he hadn’t heard a final decision from his quarterback yet. He used it as a springboard to point out how thin the depth at quarterback is and the potential, and coming from the President, likely, need to draft a quarterback this year.
The Steelers have expressed interest in bringing back Landry Jones but have also recognized his desire to test free agency and work out from under Roethlisberger’s shadow. The only other QB on the roster is Zach Mettenberger, claimed off waivers at the end of the preseason to replace the injured Bruce Gradkowski. Mettenberger did not log a snap for the Steelers in 2016.
But most importantly. Roethlisberger will back. When you have that, the rest of the questions are a whole lot easier to handle.