The Pittsburgh Steelers committed to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback for one more season, and it took some convoluted booking to make it all work out financially, relative to the salary cap. While it might not quite be accurate to say that they have all their eggs in one basket—they do have Mason Rudolph—certainly, most of them are in there.
And so it behooves them not only to do whatever they can to surround him with the ingredients that make it easier for him to succeed, but also to actually see that he has the talent to deliver on the promise that comes with keeping him for one more season.
For arguably the team’s most astute defender, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, he is seeing that when he watches Roethlisberger work against his defense these past few weeks, as he told Rodney Harrison on the Safety Blitz channel.
“Man, he looks good. He looks like Big Ben”, he said. “He’s challenging us. I’m happy that he’s out there and he’s practicing, because he’s doing things that you don’t see from every single quarterback in the NFL, whether it be trying to look off the safety, or the little single-hand pump fake that he does”.
“Little stuff like that that gives us better, that ‘iron sharpens iron’-type mindset”, he added, noting that working against Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins or Joshua Dobbs doesn’t compare with a future Hall of Famer. “Like I said, he’s Ben. He’s throwing his passes sharp, crisp, hasn’t lost touch. I’m excited that he’s out here”.
The Steelers had strong attendance throughout the offseason program, and so far perfect attendance at mandatory minicamp outside of the rare excused absence, but Roethlisberger has been a regular fixture around the building, participating on the field and being there with, and for, his guys.
He knows, of course, that this could very well be his final season in the NFL. He is 39 years old, after all, and he doesn’t have a contract for the 2022 season. This is the first time in his entire NFL career in which he is going to be allowed to fully play out a contract without working out an extension beforehand.
This could be one last stroll through the park, so to speak, and he’s just trying to take in all the sights. But the Steelers didn’t bring him back for any kind of farewell tour. They expect him to be a championship-caliber quarterback.
And they’ve dedicated their offseason to maximizing those efforts, making a change at offensive coordinator, hoping to improve personnel in the backfield and the offensive line, as well as keeping his stable of wide receivers intact. A $5 million pay cut notwithstanding, they’ve certainly done right by him, and now he must reciprocate.