Many of us believed the Pittsburgh Steelers would get quarterback Ben Roethlisberger signed to a contract extension before his $5 million roster bonus came due three days into the start of the 2019 league year. However, as of the time of this post, no new contract extension has been announced and assuming one wasn’t completed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one won’t come to fruition at a later date and before the start of the 2019 regular season.
While the Steelers probably could have asked Roethlisberger to push back the due date of his $5 million roster bonus he was due on the third day of the 2019 league year to buy more time, former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports told me on Monday there’s currently no sign in the NFLPA records of such a transaction happening. In short, that means that barring a contract extension being finalized but yet to be reported, that the $5 million roster bonus for Roethlisberger is now on the books for 2019 and thus will count against the Steelers salary cap this season.
Corry told me on Monday that he believes the team will still likely work out a contract extension with Roethlisberger at some point during the remainder of the offseason. Such an extension would then likely include just a large portion of Roethlisberger’s $12 million scheduled base salary for 2019 being turned into a large signing bonus as no longer can the $5 million roster be touched if the due date of it has indeed officially passed.
Currently, Roethlisberger is still scheduled to count $23.2 million against the Steelers 2019 salary cap with $6.2 million of that amount being past bonus proration. The minimum base salary that Roethlisberger can earn in 2019 per the CBA is $1.03 million, so when added to his $5 million roster bonus and previous bonus proration amount of $6.2 million, the lowest that the quarterback’s cap charge can now be this season is $12.23 million, and that’s only if there’s no new bonus proration to account for, which we know isn’t going to be the case if he’s ultimately signed to an extension.
It’s yet to be known how long of contract extension the Steelers want to sign Roethlisberger to. At most, one would think an additional four seasons would be the max with two more seasons being the shortest length. If a two year extension is all that’s agreed to, the Steelers could give Roethlisberger up to a $30 million signing bonus as part of that deal and in the process keep his previously scheduled cap charge for 2019 virtually the same as the new number would then be $22.23 million, $970,000 less than the original $23.2 million number. Would, however, a first year total cash flow of $36.03 million be enough for Roethlisberger to sign such a short extension? Probably not, but even if it were, the Steelers would likely need to give Roethlisberger roughly another $30 million in total salary in 2020 to keep his cash flow strong and thus that could potentiality produce a cap charge of around $40 million that year if a $30 million signing bonus were also given. (Note: A lower signing bonus than $30 million can be given with the rest of the amount being made up in a higher 2019 base salary)
Signing Roethlisberger to a three-year extension with a $35 million signing bonus, of which nearly $24 million would essentially be new, would give the Steelers quarterback a 2019 total take of $41.03 million. Assuming his new base salary for 2019 would then be the $1.03 million minimum amount, Roethlisberger’s new cap charge for the upcoming season would be $20.98 million, or $2.22 million less than previously scheduled. Then, a total payout in 2020 of around $25 million in salary would likely be needed to keep Roethlisberger on a strong cash flow schedule.
(Note: A lower signing bonus than $30-$35 million can be given with the rest of the amount being made up in a higher 2019 base salary than minimum)
Keep in mind that the above calculations are essentially based on Roethlisberger wanting to come away from a new extension with a new money average of $31 million. Obviously, if he’s willing to accept a new money average lower than $31 million then a few numbers in the above examples could be deceased slightly. Additionally, signing Roethlisberger to a perceived max four-year extension would obviously help lower his 2019 salary cap charge more than just a few million as that would provide an additional year to prorate whatever signing bonus he’s given.
Hopefully my crude example above clearly shows that just because Roethlisberger wasn’t likely signed to a contract extension before his roster bonus became due several days ago that one can still be done before the start of the 2019 regular season with relative ease and one that could potentially still lower his 2019 salary cap charge some as well.
The only other thing worth paying close attention to moving forward from right now when it comes to a potential contract extension for Roethlisberger is the fact that Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers are both also likely to sign new contracts this offseason. Should those two players wind up signing new deals before Roethlisberger does, it could change the financial negotiations with the Steelers quarterback and especially if one or both wind up becoming the highest or second-highest paid in the league.
Currently, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers leads everyone with a $33.5 million yearly average. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is currently behind Rogers with a $30 million yearly average, while Wilson, Roethlisberger and Rivers are currently tightly grouped together way further down the list with yearly averages of $21.9 million, $21.85 million and $20.8125 million, respectively, according to Over the Cap.