Ben Roethlisberger is coming off of an interesting season in which he posted a strong touchdown-to-interception ratio, but was a rather inefficient passer, and for many observers, his level of play simply did not pass the eye test.
Soon to be 39 years old, he has one year left on his contract for 2021, which will be his 18th in the NFL, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, through president Art Rooney II, have already made it known that the team will have to do something with his contract—or more specifically, his cap hit—in order to make that happen”.
As is typically the case around this time of year, Rooney does the media rounds for a couple of days and discusses the same topics over and over again, but between his first comments and his most recent with WTAE last night, Roethlisberger’s representatives also issued a statement emphatically saying that they are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.
“Ben’s been pretty clear and consistent that he wants to come back next year”, Rooney told Andrew Stockey on Friday. “That’s not a surprise, and we look forward to having conversations with him about where we’re going, and we’ll try and get there. I know his representatives always do a good job trying to get the job done”.
“I believe he wants to come here and play, and I believe Ben’s at a point where I think the most important thing to him is his winning, and that’s the most important thing to us”, he added. “We’ll sit down and talk about how we put together a plan that would work for everybody”.
But he also stressed the unique realities of the 2021 season, which will feature a plunging salary cap, a situation that he called ”probably unlike anything we’ve faced before in terms of a cap actually going down. Ben’s contract’s not the only one that we’re going to have to look at, unfortunately”, he added, “and probably going to have to make some hard decisions. So we’ve, you know, we’ve got our work cut out for us here at this offseason”.
It’s fair to say that Roethlisberger doesn’t have as much leverage, so to speak, as he might normally have, both due to his play on the field and his age, as well as the salary cap realities and the limited options available to the team about reducing his cap number.
While it would be extremely unlikely that a scenario arises in which the two sides part ways, Rooney has done a bit of the hard sell in his public comments to make sure that it’s known that that option is on the table. But they will work something out, and Roethlisberger will finish his career as a Steeler, as expected.