North Notes: Big Ben, Browns, Prater

After the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs on Wildcard Weekend, one more year in Ben Roethlisberger‘s career had come and gone and Pittsburgh was no closer to its seventh Super Bowl victory than it was when Tim Tebow dispatched the Steelers in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. However, as Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, there is plenty of room for optimism in the Steel City.

Roethlisberger, who started every game in consecutive seasons for the first time, enjoyed the best statistical season of his career, which helped to dispel the notion that he would break down sooner than other quarterbacks. With the continued growth of Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, and Le’Veon Bell, along with All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown, there is no reason to think Roethlisberger will not continue to thrive for at least another five years. Therefore, Bouchette believes the team should hammer out the much-discussed extension with Roethlisberger quickly, even though it will likely be a six-year pact worth about $120MM or so, with a $30MM signing bonus and even more in guaranteed money.

Now for some more links from around the league’s north divisions:

  • Even though the Steelers have been justly criticized for their poor salary cap management in recent years, Bouchette writes in a separate piece that the team is actually in pretty good shape for 2015, especially after it works out the extension for Roethlisberger and sheds the contracts of some aging veterans. Bouchette notes that the Steelers will not only have room to retain some of their own key free agents, but also to pursue players from other clubs.
  • Tony Grossi of looks at a number of issues facing the Browns this offseason, including their offensive coordinator search, which has taken a disappointing turn thus far, their quarterback concerns, and what they will do about a kicker.
  • Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes that new Bears head coach John Fox is not a quarterback expert, but he handles them well, which will benefit the team regardless of whether it keeps Jay Cutler or moves in a different direction.
  • Lions kicker Matt Prater has reiterated that he would like to remain in Detroit next season, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press. Prater is an unrestricted free agent and has not had talks with the Detroit front office, but he believes the team is aware of his desire to return.
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