Steelers not Extending Roethlisberger Yet, QB Makes a Statement on Contract

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract is currently well below market value. He’s slated to receive $23.7 million over the course of the final two years of his contract. To put that into perspective, divisional-rival Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens, has a deal that pays him $20.1 million on average. 

Steelers owner Art Rooney II had this to say about Roethlisberger’s contract (via Steelers.com).

We believe the cap will go up again next year,” said Rooney, “and so from a cap planning standpoint, next year will be a better situation for us to address a franchise quarterback type of contract.

This statement doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Pittsburgh could easily extend Roethlisberger this year without taking much of a cap hit in 2014. Instead, it seems content on Roethlisberger playing out the upcoming season and then sitting down with the franchise quarterback next offseason.

Rooney continued…

And so I talked to Ben, and then we talked with his agent Ryan Tollner about where we are and the fact we intend on addressing Ben’s contract situation after the season, so that we could address a number of players who were going into their last year in 2014. I think Ben understands that’s our intention and the way we’d like to proceed. I think we had a good conversation.

Unfortunately for Rooney and the Steelers, Big Ben might not be as understanding as they think. In an interview with Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Roethlisberger had this to say about his current deal.

Playing this year at my current salary, it’s kind of taking a hometown discount,” Roethlisberger said. “I’ve played seven years on my current contract, which is the most of any (NFL) player or any quarterback. … It is kind of taking a discount compared to maybe where it could be compared to other quarterbacks.

This is a valid point. As evidenced by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick receiving an extension that averages nearly double of what Roethlisberger is set to average in the final two years of his deal, the Steelers quarterback is most definitely underpaid at this point.

While choosing his words carefully, Roethlisberger concluded that Pittsburgh’s approach to his specific situation isn’t par for the course for the franchise.

Usually the Steelers do a quarterback deal with two years to go, which would be this year. … It’s kind of a unique thing.

There is no reason to believe that this will get ugly, but if the Steelers don’t hand out an extension to Roethlisberger next offseason, there is a chance he could make more out of this situation at that point.

Photo: USA Today