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’s contract extension will hit or exceed an average of $30 million per season in the new-money portion of the deal.
Explanation: Roethlisberger is in the final year of a four-year contract extension he signed in 2015, which paid him about $22 million per season. That deal was not at the top of the market then, and it’s far from it now. There are 12 quarterbacks on contracts averaging more per season than his, with the new ceiling set at $35 million and three players at $30 million or more.
Both sides are approaching this negotiation process with the mindset that this is the last contract the Steelers and Roethlisberger will have together. While that is not an absolute guarantee, there is a high probability that is the case. As the last one, Roethlisberger is going to want to cash in at market value.
Drew Brees is making $25 million per season and is a few years older than Big Ben. In other words, age is not going to keep his price down. The only thing that will keep his price down would be his willingness to take a substantial hometown discount in order to help the Steelers add talent around him, but let’s face it, his wife doesn’t have the same sort of cashflow as Tom Brady’s. Brady is pretty much playing as a hobby at this point.
Oh, and did I mention that Roethlisberger is coming off one of the few 5000-yard seasons in NFL history, as well as the season in which he threw for more touchdowns than ever before? He’s not exactly slowing down. In fact, he was in the best shape he has been in for years last year.
While Roethlisberger is obviously going to get a substantial pay raise, it should come in below the $30 million mark, which so far only Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson have broken. All three of them are younger than Roethlisberger, two have won Super Bowl titles more recently, and the other frankly should have as well.
Aside from that, Roethlisberger has never struck me as the type who is dead-set on breaking the bank. He should be around the top five or so highest-paid at his position, but will he need to get $30 million for the sake of his ego? I don’t think so.