Ben Roethlisberger

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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Steelers Want Ben Roethlisberger Back

8:25pm: Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that Tollner’s statment was accurate and that Rooney has indeed told Big Ben that he wants him back in 2021. Rooney is expected to make a statement to that effect tomorrow.

5:39pm: After Kevin Colbert made comments that put Ben Roethlisberger‘s status with the 2021 Steelers on shaky ground, the future Hall of Fame quarterback has now met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II. That meeting may have gone quite well.

The Steelers want Roethlisberger to return for the ’21 season, according to his agent, Ryan Tollner. Tollner indicated the team has the 17-year veteran in its plans and will contact him soon regarding the QB’s new cap arrangement, per Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (on Twitter). Roethlisberger is set to count more than $41MM against Pittsburgh’s 2021 cap.

It would seem Big Ben’s cap number would need to be addressed before most of the Steelers’ other matters, which do not involve numbers that big. No player’s 2021 cap number surpasses Roethlisberger’s, and it cannot be reduced below $23MM. The Steelers are currently $19MM over the projected 2021 cap, though they have been making moves to get under it. Roethlisberger’s contract represents the top domino in this process.

Although Big Ben threw 33 touchdown passes — his second-most as a pro — he finished 22nd in Total QBR during a Steelers season that tailed off down the stretch. Roethlisberger wrapped his 2020 campaign with a four-interception playoff game but did make a successful return after a severe elbow injury that ended his 2019 season early.

Roethlisberger will turn 39 next week, but the Steelers have yet to make a true investment in Roethlisberger’s long-term successor. And their 12-4 record puts them in the back half of the first round. A Ben return would help stabilize the team’s QB situation for at least one more season.

Fond of restructuring contracts, the Steelers have gotten to work on this front by redoing Cameron Heyward‘s deal. With the cap expected to drop from $198MM to near the $180MM mark, more such moves will need to be made. The Steelers are not expected to use their franchise tag to retain either Bud Dupree or JuJu Smith-Schuster, and other free agents like Mike Hilton, Alejandro Villanueva and James Conner may well depart. Roethlisberger may return for an 18th season, but the Steelers figure to look considerably different after this offseason.

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Ben Roethlisberger Meets With Art Rooney II

Plenty of eyebrows were raised last week when Steelers GM Kevin Colbert sounded unenthused (to put it kindly) about the prospect of Ben Roethlisberger returning in 2021. Colbert gave the classic GM-speak kiss of death of “as we sit here today, Ben Roethlisberger is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” and also said “quite frankly, we need to look at the situation.”

Then adding further fuel to the fire, Aditi Kinkhabwala of ESPN.com tweeted that the team still hadn’t reached out to Big Ben to set up a time to talk about his contract. Either it’s just funny timing, or someone within the building was reading Kinkhabwala’s tweets, because that’s no longer the case. Roethlisberger has met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette tweets.

He doesn’t have many details, but sources told Dulac that the meeting “went well.” Of course, we’ve heard all offseason that Pittsburgh isn’t interested in bringing Roethlisberger back at his $40MM+ cap charge, and that he’ll need to restructure his deal to return for one more ride.

To his credit Roethlisberger has said that’s fine by him, and that he doesn’t care what he ends up making in 2021. Right after the season ended it looked like Big Ben returning was something of a done deal, then recent comments from the organization made everything seem very much up in the air.

Today’s meeting is the first step back in the other direction, and it shows the Steelers actually do have some intention of working something out with their franchise icon. We should know a lot more about this meeting and what comes next soon.

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Latest On Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger

The Steelers remain somewhat confident in Ben Roethlisberger going forward, and after a meeting with the future Hall of Fame quarterback, the consensus was that he intends to return for an 18th season. But GM Kevin Colbert stopped short of fully committing to the 17-year veteran for 2021.

Colbert said Wednesday, via NFL.com’s Aditi Kinkhabwala, Roethlisberger communicated to them he wants to return for an 18th season. His contract runs through 2021. But Colbert said he, Art Rooney II and Mike Tomlin informed the passer “quite frankly, we need to look at the situation” (Twitter link).

Roethlisberger said recently he is willing to restructure his contract to help the Steelers, but they are well over the projected 2020 salary cap. The Steelers and Big Ben are not currently negotiating, per Colbert, who added (via Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews, (on Twitter), “As we sit here today, Ben Roethlisberger is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.” That sort of statement certainly qualifies as eyebrow-raising, especially considering the Steelers’ lack of a surefire QB plan that does not involve Big Ben.

It involves the players around him. I’m sure he’s going to to want to see what type of team we can keep together under our current situation,” Colbert said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com (Twitter links). “Then we’re making guesstimates as to what we can do to put the best team together for our sake and for Ben’s sake. What kind of team can he anticipate being around him if we decide we can move forward together.”

Colbert said he believes Roethlisberger can “absolutely” still do special things, despite going into his age-39 season and coming off a four-INT playoff game. But he was less bullish on his quarterback than he was during the 2020 offseason, when Roethlisberger was coming off a severe elbow injury. As of Wednesday, Roethlisberger’s 2021 cap number sits at an NFL-high $41.3MM. He is due a $15MM roster bonus March 19.

Roethlisberger would still count $22MM against Pittsburgh’s cap if he retired, and a $27MM cap figure would be the lowest possible if the Steelers extended him, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com notes (on Twitter). Even if he returned for the league minimum in base salary, Ben’s contract would still produce a cap number north of $23MM next season.

Hopefully there’s a way we can figure out what’s best for the organization,” Colbert said, via Kinkhabwala (on Twitter). “Hopefully he can see that and feel the same way.”

The Steelers will also look quite different than they did in January. They have JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Alejandro Villanueva a month from free agency. Without any of these players factoring into the equation, the Steelers are $30MM over the projected $180MM salary cap. Pittsburgh has Mason Rudolph going into a contract year and signed Dwayne Haskins recently, but the team has not made a true investment in a long-term quarterback since selecting Roethlisberger in the 2004 first round.

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Latest On Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger

While it sounds like Ben Roethlisberger is willing to meet the financial demands of owner Art Rooney II, those impending contract discussions still left some question marks about the quarterback’s future in Pittsburgh. Well, it sounds like Roethlisberger will have a say in roster construction, another indication that he’ll be back next season. Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (via Twitter) that Roethlisberger is set to meet with Rooney and head coach Mike Tomlin next month to discuss “what roster plans they have for the 2021 season.”

“Ben knows he has more left, but having key players back, like (Maurkice) Pouncey, will be important,” agent Ryan Tollner told Dulac (Twitter link). “Ben’s contract won’t hold things up. We told them immediately after the season we will make any necessary adjustment to help their cap situation in 2021.”

Earlier this week, we learned that Rooney wanted to reduce Roethlisberger’s $41.2MM cap hit for next season. We learned later that day that the quarterback’s camp was willing to oblige, and these recent quotes from Tollner seem to emphasize that they won’t be haggling over a contract. It sounds like the main sticking point will focus on what the Steelers do with the rest of their roster.

The organization is already projected to be more than $30MM over a $175MM cap, though it is not known how far the cap will drop from this year’s $198MM ceiling. Wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to hit free agency, and the Steelers front office will have to trim some more salaries (like, potentially, Pouncey’s) before the start of next season. While any hypothetical Roethlisberger restructuring would undoubtedly help the cause, the organization will still have to make tough decisions elsewhere on their roster.

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