If you’ve been following the Pittsburgh Steelers at any point over the course of the past five-plus years, you’ve probably heard quarterback Ben Roethlisberger talk about his future in simple terms: I’m taking it one year at a time, because I want to give every season my all, and I don’t want to cheat my future.
But he hasn’t really spoken about seriously contemplating retirement for four or five years now, or thereabouts, at least not publicly. There haven’t even been reports. In a recent article from Mark Maske of The Washington Post, though, he conceded that there were moments this offseason as he tried to talk Maurkice Pouncey into one more season.
“I couldn’t say 100 percent there wasn’t ever a moment”, he said about contemplating retirement. “When I talked to Maurkice Pouncey and we talked about things together, I’d say that there maybe were moments”.
“But I felt pretty certain after praying a lot about it and talking with my wife and my agent and the people closest to me”, he went on. “I felt pretty confident that I still had something in the tank and still wanted to go out and be a part of this team that I feel is pretty special”.
We’ve heard several times from head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert, and president Art Rooney II that Roethlisberger was very quick in the offseason process in letting them know that he wanted to come back, and that he was willing to do what it took financially to make it work, resulting in him taking a $5 million pay cut to play in 2021.
He’s not currently under contract beyond this season, though, and this is the first time in his entire career that he’s ever going to play out a deal without getting an extension. He regularly talks about being committed to playing out his contract. But there isn’t one after this.
And it will be up to the Steeler as much as to himself, perhaps even more, as to whether or not there’s a football future for him beyond the 2021 season, at least in Pittsburgh. But it’s hard to imagine him, like Eli Manning, hooking up with another team, even if Phillip Rivers and his platoon of children did it last year.
Roethlisberger’s 2019 season ended very early after suffering three tendon tears in his throwing elbow in Week 2 of the season. Shortly thereafter, he let it be known that he won’t be going out that way, and that he would work to get back on the field after surgery.
Last season, he came up one touchdown shy of his own franchise record with 33 touchdown passes, sitting out the season finale, against 10 interceptions, posting the lowest interception rate of his since 2014 (and the third-lowest of his entire career).
Is there more for Big Ben after this season? I think his mind will tell him yes. I don’t know what his body, of the Steelers, will have to say.