On Thursday, we learned that it’s nearly guaranteed that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be back for an 18th season in 2021. So. with that huge item out of the way, we’ll now wait and see if veteran center Maurkice Pouncey returns in 2021 along with Roethlisberger. according to Thursday evening report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it certainly sounds like there’s a great shot of Pouncey being back in 2021 as well.
Dulac talked to Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner on Thursday and he dropped a little tidbit about Pouncey when talking about his client returning for the 2021 season.
Ryan Tollner: “Ben knows he has more left, but having key players back, like (Maurkice) Pouncey, will be important. Ben’s contract won’t hold things up. We told them immediately after the season we will make any necessary adjustment to help their cap situation in 2021.”
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) January 28, 2021
“Ben knows he has more left, but having key players back, like (Maurkice) Pouncey, will be important,” Tollner told Dulac. “Ben’s contract won’t hold things up. We told them immediately after the season we will make any necessary adjustment to help their cap situation in 2021.”
So, does this guarantee that Pouncey will be back snapping to Roethlisberger in 2021? Absolutely not, but I don’t think it was an accident for Tollner to drop Pouncey’s name in his response the way that he did. Heck, it makes sense that Roethlisberger would want Pouncey back for one last ride together. Personally, I will be shocked if Pouncey does not return along with Roethlisberger for the 2021 season at this point.
So, what happens if Pouncey does return? For starters, Pouncey is scheduled to earn $8 million in 2021, the final year of his contract and his cap number is scheduled to be $14.475 million. Can the Steelers get that number down like they’re planning to get Roethlisberger number down in the next seven weeks? Sure they can, but to do so they would likely need to do a voidable year extension with Pouncey like they are likely to do with Roethlisberger.
If they wanted to, and assuming Pouncey agreed to it, the Steelers could give Pouncey a four-year extension with no new money that voids right after the 2021 season. As part of that faux extension, $6.925 million of Pouncey’s $8 million salary he’s due in 2021 would be turned into a signing bonus and then prorated out from 2021-2025. Such an extension would create $5.54 million in 2021 salary cap space.
So, the downside to doing that with Pouncey’s contract? Well, for starters, the rest of the contract would void after the 2021 season and in doing so it would create a dead money charge in 2022 of $5.54 million. Should the Steelers also do a similar full voidable years extension with Roethlisberger as I have previously laid out, the team would save $14.34 million in 2021 salary cap space but at the same time create a dead money charge in 2022 of $14.34 million. So, doing both Roethlisberger and Pouncey the way I just outlined would create nearly $20 million in 2021 salary cap space yet also create a matching amount in 2022 dead money.
Once again, the start of the 2021 NFL league year gets underway on March 17 and that’s when teams need to be salary cap compliant. A few weeks before then we should know for sure if both Roethlisberger and Pouncey will be back for the 2021 season and if they are, what kind of altering has been done to their contracts and how much salary cap space was created as a result of it all.