While it doesn’t always work that way, historically the quarterback position has been the sole exception for the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding their policy of not renegotiating a contract before the deal runs into its last year. They made some exceptions for Antonio Brown, forwarding future money, but a proper extension with two years left on a contract has only ever been done in the past for quarterbacks.
And that hasn’t even been the case for Ben Roethlisberger more recently. For example, in spite of the fact that he has been clearly playing on a below-market contract for a few years now, he and the team allowed his contract to run into its final year before completing an extension yesterday, adding two more years onto the deal which exceeds $30 million in new money rather easily, now among the top few highest-paid players in NFL history.
It’s perhaps not a shock that the deal got done shortly after the Seattle Seahawks completed an extension with quarterback Russell Wilson that made him the highest-paid player in NFL history at $35 million per season. That set the new ceiling and was a key boundary in negotiations between the two sides.
Wilson set a deadline for getting the deal done last week. Roethlisberger also wanted to make sure that his deal was done prior to the start of on-field workouts, even though the extension seemingly took longer than many thought. The initial belief was that it would be done in time for the start of the new league year.
Persistence paid off, of course, as Art Rooney II talked about yesterday with Bob Labriola after the deal was completed. “I think it was one of those situations where it was clear from start to finish that both sides wanted to get something done”, he said. “Even though these days signing a top tier quarterback is not easy and there are a lot of factors that weigh into it from both sides, like I said, it was clear from the beginning that both sides wanted to get this done”.
Because of that, he said, “I felt confident the whole way along that we would get it done. And so it’s good timing. And really, Ben and I even talked about wanting to get it done in time for him to now to have that behind them as we head into the spring practices and allow him to really focus on getting ready for the 2019 season”.
The deal was completed just ahead of the start of the 2019 NFL Draft, which means that all of the Steelers’ pertinent business is now taken care of for the spring as the real meat of the offseason begins. Once the draft is over, OTAs and minicamp soon follow. And when they do, the offense will take the field knowing their quarterback will be here at least a few more years.