Ben Roethlisberger

AFC North Notes: Ravens, Ben, Bengals

Sidelined with a Lisfranc injury that kept him from performing at the Combine, Marquise Brown has resumed running, Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Although Zreibec adds (on Twitter) Brown will miss Ravens OTAs, he is still believed to be in good shape for an on-time debut. A minicamp return was once thought to be a target of Brown’s, the first wide receiver taken in this year’s draft is believed to be ahead of schedule. The Ravens seem to be expecting Brown to be ready by the time their rookies report for training camp. Lisfranc injuries can be quite tricky, so the Ravens showing caution with Brown certainly makes sense. It will be interesting how the Ravens will use the deep threat, considering how their previous long-range target, John Brown, saw his production hit a wall after Lamar Jackson took the reins last season.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • Ben Roethlisberger did not opt to gather Steelers skill-position players together for private workouts in recent years, but that changed recently. The 16th-year quarterback brought several Steelers weapons, including JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, to his lake house in Georgia for some on-field work, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. This figures to be an interesting offseason for Roethlisberger, who will be working with a younger (and less proven) receiver cast after Antonio Brown‘s ugly departure.
  • The Bengals likely will again turn to Giovani Bernard as Joe Mixon‘s top backup, but the team did add two running backs in the sixth round — Trayveon Williams and a former college backfield stablemate of Mixon’s in Rodney Anderson. The Oklahoma product is coming off an ACL tear that marred his final Sooners season. Anderson, who tore the ligament in September of last year, will not participate in Cincinnati’s offseason program but is expected to be ready by the start of training camp, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer notes. Anderson left Oklahoma early despite the injury and comes to western Ohio after a litany of maladies. Prior to the ACL tear, he suffered a broken leg, a neck injury that nullified his 2016 season and ankle tendon damage. But Anderson led the Sooners with 1,161 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017.
  • On the subject of reserve running backs, Kenneth Dixon‘s Ravens role may be in jeopardy. The team added Mark Ingram in free agency and drafted Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill in the fourth round. The Baltimore backfield houses holdovers in Dixon and Gus Edwards, but Zreibec writes (subscription required) the older player is the more likely player to be the odd man out. Injuries and suspensions have marred the 2016 fourth-round pick’s career. Dixon did average 5.6 yards per carry on 60 totes last season.

Ben Roethlisberger To Continue Playing Beyond 2021?

The Steelers recently inked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a lucrative contract extension that will keep him under club control through 2021. At the time, GM Kevin Colbert said that the contract would likely be Big Ben’s last.

That jibed with the sentiments that Colbert expressed earlier this year when he first indicated that he was exploring a new deal for his star quarterback. But now he’s suggesting that he would be open to keeping Roethlisberger around in 2022 — which would be Roethlisberger’s age-40 season — and beyond.

Colbert said (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk), “I know [Roethlisberger] doesn’t have an expiration date. We just felt that [the extension] was a foreseeable future that we were able to do, and he was agreeable to. But I’m sure that he doesn’t have an expiration date. I know that he’s still very competitive. He still wants to do this at a high level.”

Of course, Tom Brady will be 42 before the season starts, Drew Brees will play his age-40 season this year, and Peyton Manning was almost 40 when he played his last game. Although those future Hall-of-Famers have not absorbed as many hits as Roethlisberger throughout their careers, they have shown that geriatric signal-callers have plenty to offer.

Colbert added, “What [Roethlisberger] wants is more Super Bowls. And he wants to continue to try to win, and we’re gonna support that. And that was a big part of why we were willing to do what we did, and now it’s our job to help him help us get there.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers GM: Likely Big Ben’s Last Deal

This week, Ben Roethlisberger inked a lucrative new extension with the Steelers to take him through the 2021 season. This deal, GM Kevin Colbert says, will likely be his last (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). 

This doesn’t come as a huge surprise – Roethlisberger celebrated his 37th birthday in March and the new pact will take him through his age-39 campaign. Roethlisberger has flirted with retirement a few times in the past, so it was never expected that he would plan for the Tom Brady route.

Even in his old age, Big Ben remains effective. He’s also healthier than he has been in the past. Roethlisberger started all 16 games last year, marking his first perfect attendance campaign since 2014.

This year, Big Ben will seek to prove that he can conquer both father time and the absence of star wide receiver Antonio Brown. There’s plenty of reason to believe that he can pull it off – he finished fourth in Total QBR and eighth in adjusted net yards per attempt last season, even though the Steelers fell just shy of the playoffs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Roethlisberger, Hageman

A look at the details on recent deals from around the NFL:

Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger Agree To Extension

The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger have agreed to a three-year contract extension, according to Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette (on Twitter). The new pact will keep Big Ben in place through the 2021 season. 

Once finalized, the deal will pay well north of $30MM per year for 2020-21, placing him in the top-three highest paid quarterbacks for those two years, a source tells ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). In total, he gets a $63MM base value on his two new years, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Prior to the new deal, 2019 was set to be the walk year for Big Ben. Now, he has a contract that should take him through the end of his career.

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.

Big Ben started all 16 games last year, the first time he had done that since the 2014 season. The Steelers had a down season as a team and didn’t make the playoffs, but Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards. On the flip side, he also led the league with 16 interceptions.

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, was not 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 was set to carry a cap charge of $23.2MM this season. The extension should lower that figure and give the Steelers a little more breathing room heading into the draft and the later stages of free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Want To Extend Ben Roethlisberger Before Draft

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.

North Notes: Bears, Anderson, Steelers

Anthony Miller showed promise for the Bears as a rookie, hauling in seven touchdown receptions and being a key player from the outset of the team’s NFC North championship season. The Memphis product dealt with a shoulder injury, however, for much of the season. Miller said he dislocated his shoulder at least five times during his rookie campaign, with Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune noting the first such dislocation came in September and the last had him a shell of his optimal version. By season’s end, Miller had faded, finishing his first regular season with a four-catch, 25-yard December. Miller underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in January and expects to be limited throughout the Bears’ offseason program, per Kane, but understandably anticipates a production increase as an NFL sophomore — should he sufficiently recover from this ailment.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • Details are in on C.J. Anderson‘s Lions deal, courtesy of Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The veteran running back’s one-year agreement is worth nearly $1.5MM and can max out at $3MM (Twitter links). Anderson received $200K to sign. Anderson signed for one year and nearly $1.7MM with the Panthers last year. Both of these agreements represent steep pay reductions when compared to Anderson’s previous four-year, $18MM Broncos pact. But the 27-year-old back stands to play a key part in Detroit’s backfield this season, perhaps setting him up for another contract in 2020.
  • Despite the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger having been engaged in extension discussions for more than a month, no impasse between the parties exists, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. While the Steelers have spoken with Big Ben’s agent, Ryan Tollner, little dialogue has transpired between the Steelers and their 16th-year quarterback, Dulac adds. One year and $23.2MM remain on Roethlisberger’s current deal. Despite entering his age-37 season, Roethlisberger stands to take on even greater importance this coming year — considering the caliber of players the Steelers recently lost.
  • The Steelers are doing some research on higher-end cornerbacks in this year’s draft, hosting Rock Ya-Sin and Justin Layne on pre-draft visits Friday, Ray Fittipaldo of the Post-Gazette notes. A former Division I-FCS transfer who played just one season at Temple, the 6-foot Ya-Sin nevertheless rates as the No. 29 overall prospect on NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s board. A converted wide receiver, the 6-2 Layne started two seasons as a corner at Michigan State.
  • After a three-arrest offseason, running back Mark Walton received his walking papers from the Bengals.

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Still Talking Extension

Ben Roethlisberger is going to sign a new contract with the Steelers, but it doesn’t sound like anything is imminent. Pittsburgh’s GM Kevin Colbert told reporters today talks were “still ongoing”, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network (Twitter link).

Interestingly, Colbert also acknowledged the fact that Roethlisberger’s career is entering it’s final stage. “This is probably his last contract as an NFL player, so it’s significant,” Colbert said. Roethlisberger is 37 now, and whatever deal he does end up signing will end up taking him into his early 40’s. Roethlisberger has flirted with retirement a few times in the past, but appears set to sign a huge new extension that will keep him around at least a few more years.

With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown no longer on the books, the Steelers suddenly have a lot more money they can use to lock up Roethlisberger. Big Ben started all 16 games last year, the first time he had done that since the 2014 season. The Steelers had a down season as a team and didn’t make the playoffs last year, but Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards. He also led the league with 16 interceptions.

Roethlisberger has faced a lot of criticism recently for his alleged calling-out of teammates, but Colbert doesn’t think it will effect things. “I don’t think that will bother him. I think Ben is very comfortable in who he is, what he has done and what he can still do. I don’t think it will affect him,” Colbert said, according to a tweet from Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Steelers, Antonio Brown

More drama on the Antonio Brown front. The Steelers asked the disgruntled wide receiver to delay his $2.5MM roster bonus, which is slated for March 17 and set to be paid in installments throughout next season. However, Brown declined, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.

The Steelers want to delay the bonus for cap purposes, per Florio, who adds they may well be expecting Brown’s next team to actually pay this bonus rather than them. However, if Brown is still on Pittsburgh’s roster by St. Patrick’s Day, the $2.5MM goes against the Steelers’ cap.

Brown declining could be expected, given his actions this offseason. He tweeted he and the Steelers agreed a trade would be best for all parties, and Kevin Colbert said that will, indeed, be the goal, though only if it benefits the team. Having played with future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger throughout his career, Brown understandably wants to land with a team that employs a quality quarterback. He also seeks a new contract, but Florio notes the mercurial wideout has not ruled out agreeing to play for another team without having a new deal in place. In that case, Brown would expect a new contract to be agreed to before the season.

The Steelers will have to eat $21MM-plus in dead money with this trade, but that number rises to north of $23MM after March 17. They currently hold $16.3MM in cap space. A source told Florio the payment of this $2.5MM bonus would become a point of contention between the Steelers and other teams during trade talks. Brown is under the impression his bonus will arrive March 17.

Why wouldn’t they not trade me? They gotta pay me $2.5MM on March 17,” Brown said, via ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington. “If I invoice you March 17, $2.5MM that you gotta pay me, would you pay it or would you get somebody else to pay it? So it’s what — pretty much what’s good for their business.”

Despite Brown being at the center of the drama that has unfolded in Pittsburgh this offseason, he does not believe this unraveling is his fault. again appearing to cite Roethlisberger’s November criticism of his play as a reason this situation fell apart.

I don’t take any blame,” Brown said, via Darlington. “I just think I took responsibility for my situation. You know, I didn’t point the finger; I didn’t make no one look bad; I didn’t throw no stones at anyone.”

This has gotten to be quite the complex rift, though Brown has fired most of the salvos. After the practice incident before Week 17, Brown skipped meetings and walkthroughs and ignored Mike Tomlin‘s attempts to reach him before attempting to suit up against the Bengals only to be denied that opportunity. Brown told Darlington that Tomlin told him to “go home” during the lead-up to Week 17 after informing the coach he was sore. This differs from Tomlin’s explanation of the events.

Brown also told Darlington he and Roethlisberger did not work out independently during offseasons and believes the relationships he had with Big Ben and Steelers brass should have be more substantial than they are.

Criticism really is a part of the job, you know what I’m saying? I answer criticism with achievement,” Brown said. “But, you know, and the professional level is, like, yo, like, if I’m your guy, make me know I’m your guy. But don’t say I’m your guy and then point the finger. Don’t say I’m your guy and then don’t throw me the ball the whole first quarter.

“I would’ve liked for me and Ben to be cool. You know what I mean? I thought we was cool. But when I think … I’ve been to his house one time. He’s been to my house one time. You know what I mean? We don’t work out in the offseason. You think that’s winning? That’s not winning.”

The Jets, Raiders, Redskins and Titans have been the teams now connected to Brown. Prior to the Combine, the 49ers were on the radar. They may re-emerge, but not much has transpired on this front as of late.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger Have Discussed Extension

Reports earlier this month indicated the Steelers were expected to discuss an extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and club owner Art Rooney II confirmed this week that those talks have indeed begun.

“We’ve already started talking to him and his representative about extending that contract,” Rooney said, according to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune. “I think Ben has some good years left. I’d still say he’s close to being in the prime of his career.

“Now that we’re seeing quarterbacks around the league that are playing into their 40s,” Rooney added. “I’m not sure there’s any reason that Ben can’t play for several more years. We’re looking forward to that.”

Roethlisberger, 36, is entering the final season of his current deal. He’s scheduled to earn a $12MM base salary and a $5MM roster bonus, and carries a cap charge of $23.2MM. Pittsburgh is among the bottom-10 teams in 2019 cap space, so a Roethlisberger extension would serve not only to lock in the star quarterback for a few more years, but give the Steelers financial breathing room. By handing Roethlisberger a signing bonus which would be spread out cap-wise over the length of his new deal, the Steelers could create extra cap space.

Roethlisberger 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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.