Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey received a long-term contract extension earlier this offseason, but the man Pouncey snaps the ball to won’t be signing a new deal of his own anytime soon. According to Steelers president Art Rooney II, the club doesn’t intend to enter serious extension negotiations with Ben Roethlisberger until after the 2014 season (link via Bob Labriola of Steelers.com).
“I met with Ben shortly before we did the Maurkice Pouncey signing (in the middle of June) just to make sure Ben understood where we were with our intentions as far as a contract extension for him,” Rooney said. “I just didn’t want him to feel like we were moving ahead with other players without any communication.
“And so I talked to Ben, and then we talked with his agent Ryan Tollner about where we are and the fact we intend on addressing Ben’s contract situation after the season, so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014. I think Ben understands that’s our intention and the way we’d like to proceed. I think we had a good conversation.”
Unlike several other players on Pittsburgh’s roster, Roethlisberger still has two years left on his contract, which has cap hits of $18.895MM in 2014 and $18.835MM in 2015. The Steelers have enough breathing room under the cap this season that reworking Big Ben’s deal to reduce that cap number isn’t necessary, so it makes sense that the club would wait until the 2015 offseason to get something done.
Roethlisberger will turn 33 in March, so it’ll be interesting to see what his next contract looks like, considering he doesn’t currently rank among the league’s top 10 highest-paid signal-callers. Rooney appears optimistic that a rising salary cap will give the team the flexibility to pay its franchise quarterback fair market value.
“We believe the cap will go up again next year,” Rooney said. “And so from a cap planning standpoint, next year will be a better situation for us to address a franchise quarterback type of contract.”