Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers Not Considering QB Change

After a promising Week 1 victory over the Bills in Orchard Park, the Steelers have lost two in a row. And the struggles that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went through in the second half of last year have persisted into the 2021 campaign, leading some to wonder if Pittsburgh will bench its franchise icon.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, head coach Mike Tomlin is not considering a QB change — yet. La Canfora adds that the decision to make or not make such a move lies solely with Tomlin, who will not face any pressure from ownership in that regard. But Tomlin could be feeling pressure from other members of the organization, many of whom reportedly believe that a change is essential.

The Steelers started the 2020 season 11-0, and while that always felt like a bit of a mirage, Roethlisberger’s performance was at least good enough to support the club’s suffocating defense. The six-time Pro Bowler posted QB ratings of at least 98.7 in eight of his first nine games, but things went south after that. Over his final seven games, including a disastrous wildcard loss to the Browns, Roethlisberger’s rating eclipsed 100.0 only once, and his inability to push the ball down the field was a big reason for that.

As La Canfora observes, Roethlisberger is barely averaging six yards per pass attempt in his last eight contests. Plus, his lack of mobility is not only making it difficult for new OC Matt Canada to run the type of offense he wants, it is also exposing the holes of a suspect O-line and making life more difficult for the running game.

Backup Mason Rudolph has not exactly lit the world on fire during his nine professional starts, but he might at least be a better fit in Canada’s scheme. So while Roethlisberger’s job is safe for now, the 39-year-old may need to show a significant improvement to avoid being benched during Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye.

He and the Steelers will try to get back on track in a difficult matchup against the Packers at Lambeau Field this afternoon.

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Injury Notes: Steelers, JPP, Jets, Mailata

After suffering a pectoral injury in Week 2, Ben Roethlisberger is not in jeopardy of missing Week 3. The Steelers will have their 18th-year quarterback against the Bengals. Big Ben returned to full practice Friday. He will not have his top receiver available, however. Although Diontae Johnson‘s late-game injury was not believed to be serious, Mike Tomlin pushed back on the prospect the third-year wideout would quickly surmount his knee problem. The Steelers have declared their leading receiver out for Sunday. The third-year pass catcher has run into myriad injury issues as a pro, missing games or parts of games with several maladies last year. The Steelers have contract-year wideout James Washington set to step in as a full-timer.

Here is the latest from the injury front going into the season’s third Sunday:

  • In addition to being unlikely to have Antonio Brown available, the Buccaneers will be down Jason Pierre-Paul against the Rams. The 11th-year pass rusher will miss Week 3 with hand and shoulder injuries; he did not practice this week. Tampa Bay will be set to use first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka more extensively in L.A.
  • Andre Dillard looks likely to return to the Eagles‘ starting lineup for the first time since November 2019. Recently extended left tackle Jordan Mailata is likely to miss Monday night’s game against the Cowboys, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. A knee injury is expected to keep the ex-rugby player out of Philly’s lineup, though Garafolo notes the team does not view the setback as serious. Mailata suffered the injury in practice this week, E.J. Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds. Dillard missed extensive camp time due to a knee injury and has not played an offensive snap since 2019.
  • The Jets will have Zach Wilson in uniform against the Broncos, but the rookie quarterback is playing through a groin injury. The No. 2 overall pick sustained the injury during the Jets’ Week 1 loss to the Panthers, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes (subscription required). Wilson practiced fully this week, but Howe adds the BYU product went through an MRI recently. Although Wilson might not be in danger of missing time, this is certainly an issue to monitor.
  • The Packers are likely to be severely shorthanded on their O-line in San Francisco. Elgton Jenkins, who has filled in for PUP list-stationed David Bakhtiari at left tackle, is doubtful to face the 49ers because of an ankle issue. Green Bay will likely be forced to use its third left tackle option against the 49ers, who feature Nick Bosa as their primary blindside rusher. The Packers signed Dennis Kelly this offseason, giving them a potential option at right tackle in the event they slide right-side starter Billy Turner to left tackle.
  • Between their practice squad and active roster, the 49ers have seven running backs. That total balloons to nine if Raheem Mostert (IR) and Jeff Wilson (PUP) are included, and San Francisco’s backfield will be missing more pieces Sunday. Due to injuries sustained in Week 2, Elijah Mitchell and JaMycal Hasty are respectively doubtful and out for Sunday night’s game. On the bright side, third-round rookie Trey Sermon has cleared concussion protocol. Despite beginning the season as a healthy scratch, Sermon should be expected to start, Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets. The 49ers have Trenton Cannon and recent addition Jacques Patrick, an XFL alum the 49ers added off the Bengals’ practice squad, on their active roster and Kerryon Johnson and Josh Hokit on their practice squad.

Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Dealing With Pectoral Injury

The Steelers continue to deal with injuries, and we can now add Ben Roethlisberger to the list of the walking wounded. Mike Tomlin revealed today that his starting quarterback is dealing with a left pectoral injury.

The head coach wasn’t sure when Roethlisberger specifically suffered the injury during the Steelers Week 2 loss to the Raiders. Per ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, the 39-year-old was hit 10 times (including a pair of sacks), and Tomlin made it clear that the team had to do a better job of protecting their quarterback.

“He took too many hits.,” Tomlin said (via Pryor). “We can run the ball better. We can get the ball out of his hand quicker. We can stay on schedule and not get behind the sticks and get in situations where the line of the game is so far that that that enhances the rush.”

Through his first two games of the season, Roethlisberger has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 483 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. If he was forced to miss time, the team could turn to Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins.

Roethlisberger isn’t the only Steelers player dealing with an injury. T.J. Watt left Sunday’s game, while wideout Diontae Johnson suffered an injury on the final play of the game. Devin Bush and Joe Haden missed Sunday’s contest with groin injuries.

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Steelers Not Ruling Out Ben Roethlisberger Return In 2022

For a while this offseason, it looked like the Steelers might not bring Ben Roethlisberger back. Then they reached an agreement on a revised contract (with Roethlisberger taking a pay-cut) that would keep him in the fold for 2021, but it seemed the writing was on the wall that this would be his last go-round with Pittsburgh.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II is saying not so fast. Although Roethlisberger isn’t under contract for 2022, “it’s not written in stone that this is his last year,” Rooney told reporters at training camp, per Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. He didn’t exactly offer a ringing endorsement of the prospect of multiple more years of Big Ben, however.

We’re aware this could be Ben’s last year,” he said. “We hope it’s a great one. That’s as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year we’ll be making decisions on a quarterback, and we’ll address it as the time comes up.” 

Perhaps the Steelers aren’t ruling out Roethlisberger coming back simply because they don’t have many other options currently. They gave Mason Rudolph a mini-extension to make him the only passer under contract for 2022, and the former third-round pick has said he hopes to start in 2022. Rudolph hasn’t looked particularly promising in his nine career NFL starts, but he hasn’t been a complete disaster either.

Beyond Rudolph, the team also has Joshua Dobbs and former Washington first-round pick Dwayne Haskins currently on the roster. Pittsburgh, of course, started off 11-0 last year before completely falling apart down the stretch as Roethlisberger and the offense struggled.

Roethlisberger looked like his arm might not have much left at times last season, but to be fair he was coming off major elbow surgery. Big Ben turned 39 in March, and it’ll be very interesting to see how much he’s got left in the tank physically when the Steelers kickoff their season Week 1 against the Bills.

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Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger On Pay Cut, Future

Ben Roethlisberger is back for his 18th season with the Steelers. It’s fair to wonder if this is his last, but Big Ben says he’s taking things one step at a time, like always. 

I’m going to approach this like I do every season: like it’s my last,” Roethlisberger said (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Aditi Kinkhabwala). “I think that’s the approach you have to take, and you don’t approach it that way because it could be your last, but you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last…That just means I’m going out to give it everything I have. I’ve never looked toward the future. I’ve always looked toward the right here and now. That’s what’s important for me for this season is giving everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys.”

After being limited to just two games in 2019, Roethlisberger struggled throughout 2020. After the season, he agreed to slash his salary by $5MM. Many believed that the Steelers would have gone in another direction otherwise. But, according to Big Ben, he volunteered to do it.

(The pay cut) was my idea,” he said. “I told them I wanted to help the team out however we can, and so I went to them and told them I would do whatever I could to help the team sign the guys that are going to help us win football games….I wanted to come back to be a part of what I think is a special football team that everyone’s overlooking. In order to do that, to help get guys here, I felt that it was necessary to do that.”

Whether it was the Steelers’ idea or Big Ben’s idea, the speculation can be put in the rear view mirror. Roethlisberger is set to lead the way once again in 2020 and, thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s own home team discount, he’ll have his top target along for the ride.

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QB Notes: Rodgers, Steelers, Broncos, Pats

While Aaron Rodgers is content to go year-to-year with the Packers, who have declined to restructure his contract to create cap space this offseason, the reigning MVP has made no secret of the fact he is gunning for the job Alex Trebek held for 36 years. The first week of the Jeopardy! episodes Rodgers previously taped wrapped Friday, and although the show’s run of guest hosts will continue after next week’s shows, the 37-year-old quarterback wants to become Trebek’s successor. With Jeopardy! filming five episodes per day two days a week — on Mondays and Tuesdays — Rodgers believes he can become the show’s next full-time host without retiring from the NFL.

I don’t think I’d need to give up football to do it. They film 46 days a year. I worked 187 this year in Green Bay. That gives me, eh, 178 days to do “Jeopardy!” So I feel like I could fit 46 into that 178 and make it work,” Rodgers said, via The Ringer’s Claire McNear. “It would be a dream job for sure, and I’m not shy at all about saying I want the job. That’s how I went into it. I want an opportunity to be in the mix.”

Jeopardy! films in Los Angeles, so it may create some issues if the show — in the event Rodgers landed the gig — filmed episodes during training camp, the regular season or the playoffs. Just ahead of his most recent contract agreement, in 2018, Rodgers said he would love to play until at least age 40. Four hosts, including Jeopardy! mainstay Ken Jennings, preceded Rodgers this year. Five more will take their turns after Rodgers’, creating a crowded mix to succeed Trebek, who died in November 2020. Shifting back to strictly NFL matters, here is the latest from the quarterback world:

  • Among QBs in his age range, Ben Roethlisberger stands alone. The other two 2004 first-round QBs — Eli Manning and Philip Rivers — retired. So did Drew Brees. Tom Brady relocated, and the Packers drafted Rodgers’ would-be heir apparent in Jordan Love. The Steelers, however, are still Roethlisberger-dependent. They will not trade up from No. 24 to draft a quarterback, according to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (subscription required), who notes that it would not be too surprising if Roethlisberger ended up staying on for his age-40 season in 2022 while the organization figures out its long-awaited plan.
  • Washington looms as a team that appears interested in trading up for a quarterback, but the team may have company. The Broncos and Patriots loom as other candidates to move up the board for a passer, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video link). A trade-up maneuver would not cost the Broncos (No. 9) what the Patriots (No. 15) would have to pay. New England is usually big on trading back and accumulating picks, but the franchise zagged by splurging in free agency this offseason. And its QB situation is considerably different from what it was when Bill Belichick trade-downs were commonplace. Both teams would benefit from the run of quarterbacks pushing non-QB prospects down the board, but neither appears to have a viable long-term answer. The Broncos are planning to add to their Drew Lock-centered QB room and discussed Matthew Stafford and Sam Darnold. But Lock may remain unchallenged going into the draft.
  • Nate Sudfeld‘s 49ers contract is a one-year deal worth $990K, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The former Eagles third-stringer will receive $252K guaranteed, and $138K is available via incentives.

Details On Ben Roethlisberger’s New Deal

We heard earlier Thursday that Ben Roethlisberger had come to an agreement with the Steelers, and now we have the details on the restructure.

Roethlisberger reduced his compensation from $19MM to $14MM for this season, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). He then spread the cash payment out into future seasons, saving the team about $15MM in cap space for this season in total. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network then tweeted the full breakdown. He’s getting a $12.925MM signing bonus, and a $1.075MM base salary for 2021.

As expected, the new pact has four voidable years that will void after this season, so it technically now runs through 2025 for cap purposes. The Steelers were in a bad cap spot, so they desperately needed this move to have any flexibility this offseason.

There had been a lot of discussion about whether it would simply be a restructure, or if Roethlisberger would take a drastic pay-cut, and in the end it wound up somewhere in between. After a whole lot of drama, the issues is officially put to rest, and Big Ben will be Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback for one more ride.

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Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger Agree To New Deal

The Steelers have signed Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract for 2021, per a club announcement. Big Ben’s contract was too large for the Steelers’ salary cap, but the two sides found middle ground on Thursday afternoon. 

We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” said GM Kevin Colbert. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same – to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”

Roethlisberger enjoyed a solid 2020 season after losing all of 2019 to injury. The Steelers have wanted to keep him all along, but things were uncertain amidst the numbers crunch.

Rather than a multi-year extension, it sounds as though Roethlisberger has agreed to a pay reduction for the coming year. The maneuver may also include voidable years, kicking much of the cash down the road for when the Steelers have a higher cap limit and more flexibility. It’s probably not the solution that Roethlisberger wanted, but he was ultimately willing to compromise.

It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” said Roethlisberger. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team to address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”

Roethlisberger owns countless Steelers records, including games plays (233), started (231), passing touchdowns (396), and completions (5,050). Last year, he finished out with 3,803 yards, 33 TDs, and 10 INTs. He was sacked just 13 times throughout the year, his lowest total of any complete season.

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Latest On Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger

After a whole lot of drama, it now appears that Ben Roethlisberger is in fact going to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback in 2021. Things aren’t wrapped up though, as Big Ben still needs to adjust his contract in a way that satisfies Pittsburgh’s management.

Roethlisberger currently has a cap hit north of $40MM for 2021, and that isn’t going to stand. The team’s options are limited, and in a recent TV hit Brooke Pryor of ESPN laid out what they are (Twitter video link). Pryor says the team can give Roethlisberger a four-year extension, which would void after 2021 and save the them around $14MM in cap space for this season. The extension would be strictly a technical maneuver to spread cap charges, as those voidable years being tacked on to contracts have become increasingly popular recently.

The other option she lays out is to have Roethlisberger take a massive pay-cut to play for the veteran minimum, which would reduce his 2021 cap charge down to around $23MM. Meanwhile, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network seems to think after conversing with a source that voidable years are the likeliest path, even though as he notes it’s something the Steelers don’t often do (Twitter video link).

He thinks the Steelers will give Big Ben a big signing bonus for this season to ensure he still gets paid starting QB money, and then spread that bonus out over several voidable years. Getting lost in all the contract talk is how Roethlisberger will actually look when it comes time to take the field.

Team president Art Rooney II said this week that he’s not too concerned about his actual play, via the team’s official site. “We think Ben played at a high level last year,” Rooney said. “We won our division and set a franchise record for most consecutive wins to open a season, so there was a lot of good stuff.

Rooney even addressed the concerns about Roethlisberger’s physical limitations after the elbow surgery that cost him almost the entire 2019 season. “His arm, I would say, is as strong or almost as strong as ever, so I think he’s certainly capable of getting the job done.” Observers of 2020 Steelers games might disagree, but it’s interesting to here nonetheless. Rooney also said March 17th, the beginning of the new year, is a deadline to get something done, although he hopes it’ll happen before then.

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Steelers Prez On Ben Roethlisberger Meeting

Steelers president Art Rooney met with Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday to discuss the quarterback’s future. On Wednesday morning, Rooney let fans know that the meeting was productive and a big step towards moving forward together. 

Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday morning and we had a productive meeting,” Rooney said. “We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship. We both understand the next step is to work out Ben’s contract situation.”

Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner made similar comments yesterday following the meeting. Of course, the big barrier here is Big Ben’s contract. The veteran is set to count for more than $41MM against the Steelers’ 2021 cap. In one fashion or another, that number has to be tampered down. It’s the highest cap hit of any player for 2021, and the overall salary cap is set to drop for the first time in a decade.

Roethlisberger, who turns 39 next week, isn’t the only Steelers player in flux. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Alejandro Villanueva are also slated for free agency, and the Steelers don’t have the capital to keep all of them. Even without those players factored in, the Steelers are already looking at a ~$210MM payroll, which probably puts them $20MM-$25MM over the to-be-determined max.

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