Ben Roethlisberger

When we talk about the greatest quarterbacks of our era, two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger normally doesn’t pop up in the conversation. It’s always all about Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Maybe it’s because Pittsburgh hasn’t seen postseason success since last decade, but Big Ben is extremely underrated. Finally with a running game and a decent offensive line this past season, the future Hall of Famer put up his best statistical season. Roethlisberger tallied a league-high 4,952 passing yards with 32 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He also led Pittsburgh to the seventh-best scoring attack in the league at over 27 points per game.

So when Big Ben and his Steelers announced a five-year, $99 million contract for the franchise quarterback, most didn’t bat an eye.

Looking further into the contract, it is actually a bit absurd. Ben will earn $21.6 million per season over the first three years, which ranks second to only Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The $60.75 million guaranteed Big Ben received at signing is the most ever handed out to a quarterback in league history, as is the $65 million he will earn over his first three seasons. The deal can escalate to $108 million based on performance. Essentially, it’s a three-year, $65 million deal. If you look at it that way, this new contract made perfect sense for the franchise.

Courtesy of USA Today: Big Ben has helped Pittsburgh overcome recent struggles
Courtesy of USA Today: Big Ben has helped Pittsburgh overcome recent struggles

In a “what have you done for me lately league,” Roethlisberger has largely gone unnoticed from a national perspective. Prior to winning the AFC North in 2014, Pittsburgh failed to make the playoffs in the previous two seasons. Actually, it’s last venture into the second season prior to 2014 culminated in a premature exit against the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos. Sorry to bring that up, Steelers fans.

Despite Pittsburgh’s lack of success in the two seasons it missed the playoffs, Big Ben still put up staggering numbers. He tallied 54 touchdowns compared to 22 interceptions for a ridiculous 94.5 quarterback rating. Those are elite numbers right there. And over the course of his past three seasons, Big Ben has put up 12,478 yards with 86 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. For comparison’s sake, Tom Brady has tallied 13,279 yards with 92 touchdowns compared to 28 interceptions during that same span.

A vastly underrated talent, Big Ben has kept Pittsburgh afloat as it transitions from the Super Bowl teams of last decade to a talented young core. Throughout this entire process, he has kept quiet and stayed professional.

Now firmly in the conversation to contend for a championship in the coming years, Pittsburgh has rewarded its franchise signal caller. And for that, Roethlisberger deserves every penny of this new contract.

Photo: USA Today