2021 Offseason Questions: How Much Of Consideration Over Roethlisberger For Steelers Is About Play Over Pay?

Ben Roethlisberger

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: How much of the consideration about Ben Roethlisberger’s future is not about the salary cap from the front office?

Listening to general manager Kevin Colbert’s remarks yesterday, it’s quite clear that the Steelers understand just how pressing and severe their salary cap situation is, or at least could be, depending upon what the salary cap actually ends up being when all is said and done.

In two separate interviews yesterday, one with select members of the media and a later, more concise one with Missi Matthews for the team’s website, Colbert remarked on Roethlisberger’s status multiple times. The message conveyed through the first interview was more pessimistic.

Essentially, he more or less said what we already know, factually speaking, that Roethlisberger’s contract needs to be reworked. But he also made comments about the overall landscape of the team, and who they will be able to keep around, and that the quarterback has to be understanding of this.

The thing is, would he be saying these sorts of things, at least in the manner in which he purportedly said them, if they were still high on Roethlisberger as the franchise guy that he had always been? The franchise quarterback is the one essential ingredient that you can’t win without.

That’s the piece you worry about having, and fill in the rest later. That’s not how Colbert talked. So what does that say about how they view him as a player on the field in 2021?

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