Immediately after the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night loss to the Cleveland Browns the speculation about the futures of several players with the team instantly kicked into high gear. Obviously, the future of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger involved the most speculation right after Sunday’s home playoff loss and for obvious reasons and that includes his postgame reaction on the team’s bench. In addition to rampant speculation about Roethlisberger’s future, the same goes for veteran center Maurkice Pouncey, as many seemingly believe that he’s now played his last game for the Steelers.
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Immediately after Sunday’s game was over with, Roethlisberger and Pouncey were shown on television cameras sitting side-by-side and talking on the team’s sideline bench. Roethlisberger was then shown with visible tears in his eyes and it was obvious that whatever conversation he had with Pouncey made him very emotional. During his postgame Zoom session with the media, Roethlisberger was asked about his postgame sideline conversation with Pouncey.
“I love that guy,” Roethlisberger said of Pouncey. “He is one of the best competitors and teammates I’ve ever had. It’s been so much fun to share a football field with him. I hate that it ended the way it did. I just wanted to apologize to him that I wanted to win it for him.”
Roethlisberger’s postgame sideline actions and his quote after the game has obviously led to many speculating that Roethlisberger now knows that Pouncey is set to retire even though he has one year remaining on his current contract, the same as Roethlisberger.
Pouncey has yet to comment on his future and perhaps he will in the next several days when Steelers players give exit interviews to the media before heading off inti the offseason. For now, however, it’s all just speculation that Pouncey will retire this offseason.
Should Pouncey wind up walking away from the Steelers this offseason, he’d leave $8 million on the table as that’s the base salary amount he’s scheduled to earn in 2021. That’s exactly how much 2021 salary cap space the Steelers would save should Pouncey retire.
A Pouncey offseason retirement would also put the Steelers in a huge bind at the center position. Currently, J.C. Hassenauer is the only player under contract with meaningful game experience at the center position and all of it came this season due to games that Pouncey missed. Hassenauer’s play at center and guard this season left a lot to be desired so the Steelers would likely need to spend a 2021 draft pick on a young center should Pouncey indeed retire.