It was always unlikely that despite being in a perilous position regarding the salary cap, the Pittsburgh Steelers would trade away or release their starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Now it is confirmed that Big Ben will be back under center in Pittsburgh for another season at least.
Coming into the final year of his contract, Roethlisberger had been due $19 million. However, with the Steelers in salary cap purgatory, the quarterback reduced his pay to $14 million and restructured the terms of the deal so that the cash payment will be paid through 2022.
This move alone from Roethlisberger reduces the salary cap hit for the Steelers by $15 million this season and gives the organisation a little wiggle room.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 4, 2021
Could Not Return
It’s thought the Steelers top brass had made it clear to Roethlisberger a while ago that with a $41.2 million cap hit for the forthcoming season, they would not be able to keep him under contract for the final year of his deal without restructuring.
It is a concession that Roethlisberger was only too willing to make.
“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” stated Roethlisberger in a Steelers’ press release.
“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 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.”
Kevin Colbert, the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers, expressed the team’s delight at securing Roethlisberger on a restructured deal.
“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.”
“We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this tea. 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 this goal.”
Eye To The Future?
With Roethlisberger now at age 39, there is no doubt that this is a relatively short term appointment. Big Ben did throw for 33 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions last season but there were concerns at points last season that the elbow surgery he underwent after week 2 of the 2019 season was affecting his throwing action.
This deal seems to represent a final hurrah for Roethlisberger in Steel City and it does look like that the Steelers are going to need to address who will be his long term successor. And with little space in the salary cap, that is going to be a challenge.
Especially when you consider the Steelers have 19 unrestricted Free Agents hitting the market this summer including linebacker Bud Dupree and receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
However, with Vance McDonald and Maurkice Pouncey deciding to retire, as well as Roethlisberger’s restructured deal, some analysts now have the Steelers as being $3.6 million under the salary cap.
There’s still some tough decisions to make in Steel City, not least who will eventually succeed Roethlisberger as the first choice quarterback, but for now the team looks set to make another strong run in a very competitive AFC North next season.