Ben Roethlisberger could see there was a road back for an 18th season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that meant there was a price to be paid.
So Roethlisberger approached management to discuss his willingness to accept a pay cut and the meetings resulted in a $5 million reduction that cut his salary to $14 million for 2021.
“It was my idea,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday. “I told them I want to help the team out however we can. I went to them and told them I would do whatever I can to help the team sign guys who are going to help us win football games. I have been extremely blessed to play this game for a long time.”
Roethlisberger has started 231 of 233 regular-season games played for Pittsburgh and couldn’t envision himself in a different uniform.
He was a first-round draft choice (No. 11 overall) in the famous 2004 NFL Draft that included Eli Manning and Philip Rivers also being high selections. Roethlisberger wanted to end his career with the same team in which started.
“I didn’t want to go anywhere. That is why I told the Rooneys and Coach (Mike) Tomlin I want to be here,” Roethlisberger said. “I don’t want to be anywhere else. This is home to me. I will always bleed black and gold. Almost half of my life has been here playing football for the Steelers.
“That is why I told them I would take a pay cut to stay here because this is what I believe in, this group, this city. This is home. I am honored to have my career be here.”
Roethlisberger has earned two Super Bowl rings with the Steelers and ranks seventh all-time with 60,348 regular-season passing yards and eighth with 396 touchdowns.
Last season was up and down for him after he returned from a serious elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019.
Roethlisberger guided the Steelers to an 11-0 start before the team lost four of its last five regular-season games and then was booted out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Browns in the AFC wild-card game.
He passed for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 games but admitted to being worn down late in the season.
“I didn’t play well enough at the end of the season,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s no secret, and I’ll be the first to point the thumb at myself. When you have the ball in your hand every play, you have to make plays and play better football. If the quarterback isn’t playing good football, especially late in the season, it’s directly related to winning and losing.”
As for whether he will play past 2021, Roethlisberger doesn’t have an answer yet. He turns 40 in March.
“I want to approach this like I do every season — like it’s my last,” Roethlisberger said. “I think that is the approach you have to take. You don’t approach it that way because it could be your last, you approach it because every single play in the game of football could be your last. Every game in football could be your last game.
“That just means I’m going to give everything I have. I’ve never looked toward the future. I’ve always looked toward the right here and right now. That’s what is important for me for this season. I want to give everything I have right here and right now for this group of guys.”
–Field Level Media