Steelers News

Report: Growing Optimism Roethlisberger Will Play In 2021; Wants Smith-Schuster Back With Him

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ben Roethlisberger

Will Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger be back in 2021? While the Steelers longtime quarterback probably isn’t likely to officially announce his intentions for 2021 anytime soon, there’s already a growing sense of optimism since the Steelers Sunday night Super Wild Card game loss to the Cleveland Browns that he’ll indeed be back for at least one more season. NFL Network reporter Mike Garafolo said as much Saturday morning.

“Let’s start with Ben Roethlisberger, some questions about his future,” Garafolo said Saturday morning. “He certainly looked like he was pondering it as he was sitting there on the bench after the loss to the Browns there. And look, I just talked to a lot of people right now on this one who say they’d be really surprised if this is how he walks away because he came so far back from that surgery on the elbow. He feels really good.”

Garafolo continued.

“We heard Mike Tomlin allude to the fact that, yeah, the team would probably welcome him back if all things are equal here,” Garafolo said. “So, I do know that there is optimism that we have not seen the last of Ben Roethlisberger, period, and also in a Steelers uniform. The players were asking him after the game. He said, I need some time to think about it. But, again, [he] still feels good.”

Garafolo also indicated that he doesn’t expect the fact that Roethlisberger has such a high salary cap hit in 2021 will hinder him from being back to play at least one more season.

“And the salary cap situation, I know a lot of folks are looking at that $41 million cap hit, but only $19 million in cash,” Garafolo said Saturday. “And there’s a way to massage that. I don’t think there’s going to be any issues there from the team or the player. You could do an extension to kind of alleviate that cap hit.”

To close out his Saturday segment, Garafolo had another tidbit on Roethlisberger possibly returning in 2021.

“And I know if he does come back, he wants to have some of the guys who are going to be free agents back with him, including JuJu Smith-Schuster,” Garafolo reported.

Obviously, Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster is currently scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. He’s expected to have a market value this offseason of at least $16 million per year. Roethlisberger, by the way, is due a $15 million roster bonus in March, just a few days after the start of the 2021 free agency signing period.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN on Saturday, sources are saying Roethlisberger is having too much fun playing football still. Also, Roethlisberger likes the Steelers team composition too much to walk away from the organization after the 2020 season.

Until we hear anything else, expect Roethlisberger to be back in 2021.

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