The conversation surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers so far this offseason has been almost entirely engulfed by the Ben Roethlisberger-sized elephant in the room, and specifically, whether or not the team would be bringing him back to continue playing during the 2021 season.
While we seemingly took an important step getting closer to that being the case, we must remember that this was always Roethlisberger’s intention. Nothing that he has said in recent years has indicated otherwise. Even while he was recovering from major elbow surgery in 2019, he made sure to state that he had every intention of honoring his contract.
Which runs through the 2021 season. But what about 2022? Entering the 2020 season, Roethlisberger talked about wanting to win multiple additional Super Bowl titles. He would obviously need to play more than one more season at this point to accomplish that.
The Steelers will be working on his contract to create an extension that would allow them to spread out the $19 million that he is owed for this season. They will add additional years to the deal. Whether or not they will be actual ‘void’ years or simply years with no new guaranteed money remains to be seen, but traditionally, they don’t do void years. So he could have a salary on the books for 2022 in a short amount of time. Is there a chance that he actually sees that salary? John Clayton seems to think so.
“Probably. Yeah. It wouldn’t surprise me”, he said yesterday during an interview on 93.7 The Fan. “The thinking all along was that it was going to be two more years past this year. I would think—it would not surprise me—that they’ll do the void deal for 2023, and maybe a little bit longer than that”.
“I think he wants to continue”, he went on. “Clearly at this stage it’s going to be year to year, but at least the cap is going to be bigger in 2022, so they can make the adjustments there, and if they have to take the big cap hit, they take the big cap hit. But overall, it wouldn’t surprise me if Ben wants to play more than just one year”.
The New Orleans Saints gave Drew Brees a contract extension in order to spread out his cap hit knowing that the 2020 season would likely be his last, but he had salary on the books for 2021 in the event that he did continue to play.
We could see the Steelers do something similar with Roethlisberger, which is really a no-risk move. If he struggles and looks like he’s done during his play in 2021, and he decides that he is not ready to retire after the season, they can simply release him and scrub his new money off the books, leaving only his already-established prorated bonus as dead money, which was the plan all along.