The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: How many more seasons is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likely to play now that he has committed to the 2017 season?
The ‘big’ news came down yesterday that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger elected to formally commit to play for the 2017 season. But he still has two years left on his contract beyond the 2017 season. So now the question becomes, how much longer might he actually play?
Of course, it’s an impossible question to answer definitely because it’s ultimately up to Roethlisberger when he chooses to call it a career. He has clearly demonstrated that he is not likely to simply continue to play for as long as he can for the sake of doing so. He has already logged 13 seasons under his belt, after all, and accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish.
He has talked about his health and his family being priorities in his decision-making, which, really, when are they not. The family matter is one thing, but the health is another. The Steelers can play a role in that. They have significantly cut down on the number of sacks he has taken in recent years, but it hasn’t managed to allow him to escape some injuries that have kept him from playing all the same.
Still, Roethlisberger ultimately is a competitor. According to his teammates, he competes at everything, including garbage can basketball with balled-up pieces of paper. I think his heart will tell him to play longer than his mind does.
If I were going to take a stab in the dark at this, I would say that Roethlisberger finishes out his current contract and even signs another one. Maybe for two or three years, but it’s hard to say if he would actually play that one out.
Winning another Lombardi Trophy could change things in an instant, of course. Many players feel the time is right to call it a day when they go out on top. Although John Elway came back for two Super Bowls because he knew how strong a chance he had at more than one. And we know how often he has been compared to Elway—who played 16 seasons until he was 38, which would be the same tenure and (nearly) age that Roethlisberger will be at the end of this contract.