Ben Roethlisberger wants to finish his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. If the iconic organization is going to help make that happen for the future Hall of Famer, one condition must be met before Roethlisberger returns in 2021.
The Steelers have already started making changes after their ugly playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns. A change in the offensive play-calling, with Matt Canada taking over, is just the start in a potentially eventful offseason. With the coaching staff in place for next season, the focus now shifts to the quarterback and the rest of the lineup.
Steelers to discuss contract with Ben Roethlisberger
After seemingly hinting at retirement and then having a somber moment on the bench following the wild-card loss, Ben Roethlisberger expressed a desire to return to Pittsburgh in 2021. It’s a sentiment shared by the organization, but it will only happen if changes are made.
Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II spoke to reporters Thursday and said he wants Big Ben to return in 2021. However, with the NFL salary cap dropping and the team currently $34 million over the projected cap ceiling, difficult financial decisions need to be made.
If Roethlisberger wants to return, he’ll need to accept alterations to his contract. The 38-year-old is scheduled to carry a $41.25 million cap hit next season, with a $12.5 million signing bonus and a $15 million roster bonus. Pittsburgh will need to lower that cap hit significantly and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo previously noted that Big Ben is open to helping the team.
The money saved won’t just help the Steelers get under the salary cap. Both left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva and star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster are headed for free agency. Roethlisberger reportedly wants Smith-Schuster back for the 2021 season, requiring Pittsburgh to sign him to a large contract.
Of course, Pittsburgh also needs to consider its future. While Roethlisberger threw for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns this past season, he had a 9/5 TD/INT ratio, 81.9 quarterback rating and completed just 63.2% of his passes in December. The entire offense collapsed late in the year and injuries have taken a toll on Big Ben.
In an offseason where Sam Darnold, Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson could all be available for trade, the Steelers could also consider upgrading over Roethlisberger. Even if they commit to him for next season, finding a successor for him in the 2021 NFL Draft is crucial.