When reports that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was mulling retirement surfaced back in January, no one really expected No. 7 to hang up the cleats. Just one week later, we learned that club officials expected the face of their franchise to return, and that was the last public report on the matter. Everyone, it seemed, just assumed that Big Ben would be back in 2017.
But as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk observes, Roethlisberger himself has yet to formally declare his intent to return this season, though it appears as if that could be coming soon. Roethlisberger spoke at the Ignite Men’s Impact Weekend conference at Liberty University on Friday, and he was asked if he’s going to play in 2017. He replied, “I’m leaning towards it” (article via Dale Lolley of the Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter).
Roethlisberger has missed a combined six games because of injuries over the past two seasons, but his production has remained strong. He’s now fresh off his fifth Pro Bowl season, in which he completed 64.4% of his 509 passing attempts, amassed 3,819 yards on 7.5 YPA, and tossed 29 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Pittsburgh has regularly been a league superpower since it drafted Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004, having finished with no fewer than eight wins during any of his 13 seasons and gone to the playoffs nine times. Two of those postseason trips have culminated in Super Bowl victories, the latest of which came at the conclusion of the 2009 campaign.
Backup signal-caller Landry Jones recently signed a two-year deal with the Steelers, but the team seems intent on selecting a quarterback in the 2017 draft, which they have not done since they drafted Jones in 2013. This year’s crop of QBs, however, is considered to be rather weak, so it is unclear if Pittsburgh will really be able to find Roethlisberger’s heir apparent in 2017.
Roethlisberger has three years remaining on the contract extension he signed in 2015. He’d owe the Steelers $18.6MM if he were to walk away.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.