It’s no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a history of saying things that, while not wrong on the surface, or even wrong for saying, have been left open for interpretation and analysis that goes beyond what he intended to say, the general conclusion being that he shouldn’t have said it in the first place.
Even without his radio show anymore, he still managed to belt one out earlier this offseason, though somewhat under duress. When the team came out and kind of hedged on what was going to happen with Roethlisberger and his contract and whether or not he would be back in 2021, he felt compelled to issue comments making it clear that he wanted to continue playing and that he was very open to working with the team to lower his salary cap hit.
About a month ago, he told Ed Bouchette, “I don’t care bout my pay at all this year!”. Assuming that he was actually quoted accurately, this led many to believe that he was insinuating that he was open to taking a pay cut, reducing his total compensation, rather than moving things around on the books to lower his salary cap hit.
That’s not going to happen, and even Aditi Kinkhabwala, one of the members of the national media how has been very questioning about his ability to continue playing, pointed out that it wouldn’t, and that his $19 million compensation for the 2021 season is middling for a starting quarterback.
“$19 million is absolutely middle of the pack for NFL quarterbacks”, she said on 93.7 The Fan. “If Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield get new contracts this offseason, which could happen, then Ben Roethlisberger is now bottom half of the NFL. You think that Ben Roethlisberger and his people believe that he is one of the 16 worst quarterbacks in the NFL? Of course they don’t”.
“They sure as heck don’t believe that they are. And they would absolutely be insulted if the Pittsburgh Steelers act like he is. He is not raising his hand right now and saying, ‘okay, you know what? I’ve made enough money. I’ve made half a billion dollars. Just pay me the veteran minimum and spend all the money on other people’”.
She went on to say that “$19 million for a starting quarterback in the NFL of his caliber is really a very fair and reasonable salary”, despite saying that everybody would still love to see him take a pay cut, because we want to see our athletes as heroes who “believe in the greater sense of team”—even though the teams themselves don’t when it comes time to pay the players.
The bottom line is, don’t expect Roethlisberger’s reworked contract to include a pay cut of any kind from the $19 million he is scheduled to earn this season in the form of a $4 million base salary and a $15 million roster bonus due on March 19. Chances are the topic doesn’t even come up in their negotiations.