The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Are the Steelers attempting to coax Ben Roethlisberger into retirement?
Sometimes it’s the player who is the last to know—or at least the last to believe—that his playing days have come to an end. That’s as true for Steelers players as it is for those of any other team, and we have seen this process take place over the past decade with huge names like Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu.
Many are hoping that Ben Roethlisberger is the next name on that list. The question is, though, are the Steelers also among those who hope that is the case? This is the same organization who thought they would get Bruce Arians to retire after they decided to part ways, and, well, you can see for yourself how his golden years have gone.
Many, including prominent members of the media, have begun to speculate that comments made by the team this offseason have been designed around hoping to instigate Roethlisberger into retirement to some degree, one recently classifying it as a game of chicken.
Is there anything to substantiate this suggestion? Is it actually true? Are the Steelers secretly crossing their fingers hoping that Roethlisberger would take his $19 million off the books all on his own because they don’t want to be the ones who have to tell him that his playing days are done and that they’ll have to release him?