The Pittsburgh Steelers signed center Maurkice Pouncey to a two-year contract extension a few days ago and while he has since said him getting that new deal this early in the offseason was a surprise to him, perhaps it shouldn’t have been. After all, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has made it clear several times in recent years that he and Pouncey are to be considered tied to the hip and the franchise’s signal-caller even called for his long-time center to get a contract extension earlier this offseason before he receives his own. With Pouncey now extended for two more seasons, maybe that’s a sign that Roethlsberger’s forthcoming extension will only be for two years as well.
Extending Roethlisberger for just two seasons, and thus through 2021, would make some sense as he stated after the 2017 season had ended that he wants to play at least three more seasons. Signing a two-year extension now and playing it out completely would mean that Roethlisberger will had played four more seasons after saying he would like to play at least three more. For Roethlisberger to play beyond 2021, he would have to do so at 40 years of age.
Another thing to consider is that backup Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was drafted in the third-round last year, now has three more seasons left on his rookie contract that he signed and should the organization view in the next few seasons that he can be the heir to Roethlisberger, they will need to commit to him financially in either 2021, the final year of his contract, or in 2022 by perhaps tagging him.
Roethlisberger is currently due a $12 million base salary in 2019 in addition to a $5 million roster bonus on the third day of the new league year. That roster bonus being due when it is is the reason why everybody expects Roethlisberger to have a new extension done very soon and by Tuesday at the latest. That $17 million Roethlisberger is due is considered old money and most of it will be rolled over into a new signing bonus as part of the new extension he signs.
If Roethlisberger only signs a two-year extension in the coming days, that length would likely result in the quarterback’s currently scheduled 2019 salary cap charge of $23.2 million staying right at about the same number. A longer extension, however, as mentioned previously by me, would be expected to lower Roethlisberger’s 2019 salary cap charge by maybe around $7 million or so, depending on the length, structure and amount of signing bonus given.
Should Roethlisberger indeed sign just a two-year contract extension soon, that deal would likely include at least $58 million in new money and maybe even as much as $62 million in new money. $62 million in new money would make Roethlisberger the NFL’s second-highest paid quarterback behind only Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Accepting a new money average of just $29 million would rank Roethlisberger third-overall and just behind Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.
Getting Roethlisberger the strong cash flow he’ll likely want and a new money average of $31 million would likely mean the Steelers will need to give the quarterback a signing bonus of at least $40 million. They would also need to give him a base salary of at least $1.03 million in 2019 as well as that’s the minimum he can earn per his accrued years in the league. The Steelers could make that base salary a cool and even $3 million and in doing so that would result in Roethlisberger’s previously scheduled 2019 salary cap charge of $23.2 million not moving a dime if he’s given a $42 million signing bonus.
After giving Roethlisberger $45 million in 2019, the Steelers would then probably need to give the quarterback another $19 million or so in 2020 via base salary and roster bonus to keep his contract cash flow strong. $19 million total in 2020 would give Roethlisberger a two-year take of $64 million. His final year of a two-year extension, 2021, could have a combined salary amount of $15 million.
I have put this contract example from above in table form below for you to see and mind you, this is all based on Roethlisberger wanting a new money average of $31 million and an attempt by me to keep his 2019 salary cap number the same, while making sure his cash flow is similar to the last contract extension he signed in 2015. My numbers aren’t likely to be exact, but they should be fairly close if Roethlisberger only signs a two-year extension with a new money average of $31 million.
We should have word on Roethlisberger’s new extension very soon and hopefully the full details of it will available to break down just before the start of the new league year.