The Pittsburgh Steelers have already had a busy offseason, and they still haven’t taken care of arguably their number one priority, which is to work out an extension on the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as he heads into the final season of his latest deal signed several years ago.
While Roethlisberger was already telling the front office last spring that he felt that he could play for at least a few more years, the team elected to put off a possible extension. Personally, I would have expected them to have gotten it out of the way by now, but perhaps due to the fact that they have already had the salary cap space to make the signings they were hoping, they felt no rush to do so.
To briefly recap, the Steelers have already made two trades, sending Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders for third- and fifth-round picks and Marcus Gilbert to the Arizona Cardinals for a sixth; signed Maurkice Pouncey to an extension and re-signed Ramon Foster and Anthony Chickillo; and brought in cornerback Steven Nelson and wide receiver Donte Moncrief via outside free agency.
Pending the Moncrief details, which probably will not be substantial, the Steelers figure to have somewhere in the ballpark of about $7 million in cap space, but they can continue to clear additional room by working out a contract with Roethlisberger that would reduce his 2019 cap hit from the $23.2 million at which it currently stands.
The thin is, it makes an awful lot of sense for it to happen today, because tomorrow is when his $5 million roster bonus is due. In addition to his $12 million base salary, they can role the majority of that up into a signing bonus that can be spread over the life of the contract (up to five years) to reduce the cap hit for this season.
While as I’ve said the Steelers still have several million in cap space, it’s not nearly as much as it might sound given the predictable expenditures of the near future, which now includes the salaries of 10 draft choices, as well as the eventual contracts of the 52nd and 53rd players on the roster, the 10-man practice squad, Ryan Shazier’s salary on the PUP List, and any other player who may be placed on any kind of list between now and September (or after).
In other words, it would still be really nice if they could open up some additional cap space, especially since I’m still hoping that they can manage to add at least a defensive lineman, a dime safety, and maybe a veteran backup running back in free agency (forget getting a starting inside linebacker, and they already have depth, though they are trying to re-sign L.J. Fort).
So there is a very good chance that today is Extension Day for Ben Roethlisberger, the day he climbs closer to the top echelon of the quarterback pay scale since falling outside of the top 10. He’s not going to reset the market or likely even hit the $30 million per season of Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, but it will inevitably be nice chunk of change for a quarterback who just threw more touchdowns for more yardage than he ever had before—and by extension, than any Steelers quarterback.