Ben Roethlisberger will be back with the Pittsburgh Steelers for 2021 NFL season

By Vincent Frank
Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) walks off the field after throwing an interception to Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Sione Takitaki (not pictured) in the fourth quarter of an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Since the end of a 12-win 2020 campaign, Pittsburgh Steelers rumors have flown about that two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger would not return for an 18th season with the team.

Big Ben boasts a huge $41 million cap hit for the 2021 NFL season. The Steelers were not going to pay that out given their current cap situation. It led to speculation that Roethlisberger could either retire or play for another team this coming fall.

On the same day that Ben Roethlisberger met with Steelers president Art Rooney II, the quarterback’s agent had an update on his status. It’s good news for Big ben fans.

Related: Top 40 remaining NFL free agents of 2021

Ben Roethlisberger will return to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021

NFL rumors: Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Cleveland Browns during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“They want Big Ben back and will contact me soon to address his cap situation. As we’ve shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible,” Ben Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner said, via NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. “A year ago, Ben was not sure if he could throw again, but he battled back to get 12 wins and the eighth division title of his career. They lost steam down the stretch and that doesn’t sit well for him, so the fire burns strong and there’s plenty of gas in the tank.”

Indeed, Pittsburgh started the season out with an 11-0 record before losing four of its final five regular-season games and falling to the division-rival Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs.

For his part, the 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger returned from a serious elbow injury he suffered the previous season to put up the future Hall of Famer’s best performance since back in 2014. He completed 65.6% of his passes for north of 3,800 yards with 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

With that said, it was never a foregone conclusion that Roethlisberger would return to the Steelers. They are high on backup quarterback Mason Rudolph and find themselves in salary cap hell.

Read More: Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks: Top 2021 selections, ideal prospects to target

Ben Roethlisberger contract and Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap situation

Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger
Dec 2, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That was the major backdrop here. As noted above, Big Ben is slated to count $41.25 million against the cap in 2021. Taking that figure into account, the Steelers are an estimated $8.56 million over the cap. They also have big-time pending free agents in Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva and JuJu Smith-Schuster to think about.

As it stands, Pittsburgh will not be placing the franchise tag on Dupree. It now stands to reason that the team’s top edge pass rusher will depart in free agency.

With one more year remaining on his current deal, it makes sense that Ben Roethlisberger will simply sign an extension with the Steelers. It would likely come in the form of a one-year agreement, which the Steelers could get out from should the two-time Super Bowl quarterback opt to retire following the 2021 season. In turn, that would lower his 2021 cap hit.

As for the Steelers’ long-term options at quarterback, they have Rudolph on the roster. The team also signed former Washington Football Team bust Dwayne Haskins after he was released late in the 2020 season.

Needless to say, general manager Kevin Colbert must start thinking about a future without Big Ben. That just won’t come to fruition this season.

Click below for more Pittsburgh Steelers news and rumors.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Steelers, check out #HereWeGo rumors, rankings, and news here.