The public shots at — and overall lack of respect for — Pittsburgh Steelers’ future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger aren’t slowing anytime soon.
On the same day that ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum said Roethlisberger would be “bad” in 2021 and would be benched by the middle point of the season, Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox added fuel to the fire, claiming Roethlisberger as the Steelers’ most overpaid player in his piece highlighting a player on all 32 NFL teams.
It’s well known Roethlisberger took a pay cut to return to the Steelers, and is making just $14 million in cash this season while carrying a cap hit to just under $26 million. Despite knowing that, Knox said the star quarterback is overpaid at this point in his career.
“Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger restructured his contract this offseason and will only carry a cap hit of $25.9 million in 2021. However, a large chunk of money was turned into a signing bonus that will be spread out over the next five years. Roethlisberger has $35.2 million in dead money on his deal, and based on his performance in 2020, he isn’t worth that,” Knox writes. “Yes, he helped Pittsburgh win the AFC North and earn 12 wins. However, Big Ben’s trademark arm strength was noticeably absent, and he struggled to stretch the field late in the season. His yards per attempt (6.3) would have marked a career low if not for his two-game stint in 2019. The reality is that Roethlisberger is a 39-year-old quarterback who can no longer carry an offense the way he once did. This isn’t to say that Pittsburgh cannot win a championship with him under center in 2021, but the Steelers are set to pay the future Hall of Famer more for what he’s done for the franchise than what he can do now.”
Why would anyone in their right mind care what a player’s dead cap hit is in a given year in which they’re PLAYING for that team? Knox reached hard with the $35.2 million dead cap hit on Roethlisberger’s deal and showed just how little he knows about the salary cap and Roethlisberger’s contract with that one sentence alone.
What matters with Roethlisberger’s deal is that he was open to a pay cut and worked with the Steelers to reach an agreement to let him suit up in the black and gold for his 18th season. Compared to other quarterbacks across the league in terms of production and pay, Roethlisberger is underpaid at this point in his career. Once again, this feels like recency bias with the national media when it comes to Roethlisberger.
Did he falter down the stretch a bit? Yes, but there were other mitigating factors that played into Roethlisberger’s decline in play. People are quick to write off his first 11 games though, which is typically convenient for an argument like this.
He’s certainly not what he once was, and he is 39 years old, but Roethlisberger can still get it done at a high level, and the Steelers have him at a bit of a bargain compared to other quarterbacks and the salary structure across the NFL.
Of course, there’s not many candidates on the Steelers’ roster for Knox to highlight as overpaid, so Roethlisberger was probably the easiest choice, considering he’s the highest-paid Steeler. Cornerback Joe Haden or fullback Derek Watt could have been listed here as overpaid too, but that wouldn’t have generated the headlines.