Steelers Open To Ben Roethlisberger Extension Beyond 2021

Ben Roethlisberger is entering a pivotal season. Should he stay healthy, the Steelers may be a Super Bowl contender. But the 38-year-old quarterback is attempting to return from a serious elbow injury. This setback followed numerous less severe maladies over the course of his career.

But the Steelers have committed to their future Hall of Famer, not drafting a true heir apparent nor bringing in a higher-caliber backup this offseason. Unlike the other teams who drafted star quarterbacks in the early and mid-2000s, they have not unveiled a new long-term plan. And they are open to pushing this one beyond Roethlisberger’s current contract expiration.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II said he is open to another Roethlisberger extension, one that would take him into his age-40 season. Big Ben’s latest re-up — a two-year, $68MM deal agreed to in 2019 — runs through 2021. Roethlisberger is already the longest-tenured player in Steelers history.

Obviously after the season we’ll evaluate his contract situation along with other contract decisions we have to make,’’ Rooney said, via Ed Bouchette of The Athletic (subscription required). “But if Ben feels like playing longer and it looks like he’s capable of doing it, certainly that would be a great scenario.”

These comments contradict what GM Kevin Colbert said at the time of the extension. He called the 2019 contract likely Roethlisberger’s last. Roethlisberger hinted at retirement for a time, but after the Steelers moved on from OC Todd Haley, he changed his tune. Colbert also backtracked a bit from his comments about his Roethlisberger plan and may be open to his quarterback joining Tom Brady and Drew Brees in playing past 40.

The Steelers already restructured Big Ben’s deal this year, bumping his 2021 cap hit to an untenable $41.3MM. A fifth Roethlisberger contract could reduce that number, though the 17th-year passer will certainly need to show he has recovered from the elbow injury this season for the parties to discuss another pact.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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8 comments on “Steelers Open To Ben Roethlisberger Extension Beyond 2021

  1. itslonelyatthetrop

    Not a good idea.

    In the immortal words of Sheriff Buford T. Justice-
    “You can *think* about it- but dooooooon’t do it.”

  2. wagner13

    We’ll need to see how Ben performs on the field, but I’d err on the side of caution. He’s a 38-year old with a bit of an injury history coming fresh off of major shoulder surgery. Perhaps he’ll defy the odds and surprise us all, but I’d look for a replacement sooner rather than later so that their window of contention can continue smoothly

    • Ak185

      They should be looking for a replacement either way, for the reasons you stated. Big Ben is a good quarterback, and a major source of stability for this team. That said, he has been injured a lot lately and the Steelers’ core players are aging around Ben as well (Pouncey, Heyward, and Hayden are some names there). There are several positions that will likely be good for next year, but possibly not the year after (Dupree and Conner for instance).

      With all of that in mind, how much longer will it be that the Steelers can avoid some level of rebuilding? If they do that, will Roethlisberger still be effective when they can contend again? As you said, you kind of have to just see year by year. His injuries make it difficult, but Ben has a unique style that sets him apart from most other passing first quarterbacks. That makes it hard to reliably predict his future for me, but I think the Steelers need to find their long-term contingency plan anyway, just in case.

      As a Steeler fan, what would you think about a trade for Rosen as a backup to Roethlisberger?

      • wagner13

        I would be open to a Rosen trade, as it wouldn’t cost more than a late round pick. While Josh has been a massive bust thus far, it would be foolish to give up on a once touted first rounder after just two seasons with completely different play callers and a pair of atrocious offensive lines.

        If Rosen works out, he could serve as Ben’s long-term replacement. If not, he at least pushes the Rudolph/Duck duo at backup and perhaps serves as an upgrade.

        I doubt they bring back Heyward, but they should keep Villanueva in the fold as a valuable blindside blocker. Bud’s production last season was a massive outlier, which explains why he was slapped with the franchise tag. We might need to retool for a season or two, but a rebuild shouldn’t be necessary unless we simply can’t find a viable signal caller in the draft. While some of our key contributors are aging, we still have a strong core of Watt, Fitzpatrick, Tuitt, Nelson, Feiler, Bush, and DeCastro to work with. The receiving corps is also fairly solid, even if JuJu departs

        • ews34

          I’m curious about Paxton Lynch. I was hoping to see him play in the preseason. One of the few times I wish there was a preseason and there isn’t.

  3. crosseyedlemon

    I’m thinking the Big Ben saga might end up playing out the same way things did with Tony Romo.

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