The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Ben Roethlisberger will play for more than the three seasons for which he is under contract.
Explanation: Roethlisberger was entering the final year of his contract before he and the team agreed to a two-year extension yesterday, which will carry him through his age-39 season. Steelers President Art Rooney II acknowledged that they are not necessarily looking at this deal as certainly the last of his career.
Even Roethlisberger has said previously that he believes he physically could have five or more years left, and given the emerging trend of him getting in better shape during the offseason. Given that, I think there is excellent reason to believe that his career will continue beyond the 2021 season, through which his current contract runs.
While he has previously talked about retirement, and even still occasionally attempts to maintain a desire to take things a year at a time, it’s well-known that he has a drive to play, and that was reflected in his frustration with the drafting of Mason Rudolph last year.
After the Steelers selected the quarterback, he expressed his surprise about the decision because he told the front office that he felt he had several more years of play under his belt. That seems like a dead giveaway about where his head really is.
While I do believe that Roethlisberger feels right now that he is able to and wants to play for more than three seasons, the reality is that three years is a long period of time for minds to change. And a lot of things can change a player’s mind. Look at Rob Gronkowski retiring after nine seasons.
Roethlisberger has previously expressed concern over his long-term mental health stemming from taking hits to the head. He has at least a few documented concussions under his belt already, so that can always sway him at any given time.
Winning another Super Bowl can always take the wind out of a player’s sails in terms of his desire to continue playing as well. There is a strong compulsion to go out on top.
And, of course, there exists the possibility that he experiences an erosion of his talents over the course of the next three years. Should that occur, he might find it difficult to find a contract that he would be content playing under, if he doesn’t then desire retirement if he heels he’s no longer capable of competing at the highest level.