The Steelers are working hard to extend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger prior to the draft on Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Big Ben has one year left on his current deal, but the club wants to keep him “well beyond” the 2019 season. And, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter), contract talks are moving in the right direction.
We recently heard that Roethlisberger was not necessarily pushing for a new contract, but that discussions between player and team were ongoing. The two sides have been discussing a re-up at least since January, and given that Roethlisberger could earn upwards of $60MM in the 2020-21 campaigns if the team used the franchise tag on him, that figure could be a primary benchmark in negotiations.
Whether Roethlisberger is a good teammate or not has been a hot topic of late, but his on-field production continues to be top-notch, as he set career-highs in completions (452), pass attempts (675), passing yards (5,129), and touchdowns (34) this past season. Advanced metrics lauded Roethlisberger’s work as well, as he finished fourth in Total QBR and eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger ranked fifth in Football Outsiders‘ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement level player, and eighth in DVOA, meaning he was effective on a per-play basis. His status in the locker room, whatever it might be, does not figure to be a factor in contract talks.
The Steelers, of course, narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018 despite Big Ben’s impressive statistics, and the team is now without Antonio Brown. But Pittsburgh has never had a losing season with Roethlisberger at quarterback, and despite the trade of Brown, the club should once again compete for the AFC North crown.
Roethlisberger is set to carry a cap charge of $23.2MM this season, and an extension would lower that figure and give the Steelers a little more breathing room.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.