NFL

Roethlisberger leaning towards playing in 2021, willing to redo deal

By Sports Desk January 28, 2021

Ben Roethlisberger wants to play another NFL season and said he is willing to do whatever it takes to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The veteran quarterback addressed the swirling speculation about his future with the only franchise he has ever known on Thursday, telling The Athletic that he has approached the Steelers about restructuring the final year of his contract.

"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," Roethlisberger said. 

Speaking to a group of reporters earlier, Steelers president Art Rooney II affirmed that Roethlisberger has informed the team of his desire to play an 18th NFL season but added that keeping the two-time Super Bowl champion on the roster would be unfeasible with the Steelers' current salary cap situation.

Roethlisberger has a $41.25million cap hit for 2021, the highest of any player, and next year's cap is expected to drastically decrease due to a loss in league revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"I think we've been up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract. I think he understands we have some work to do there," said Rooney per ESPN.

"We'll have conversations internally, and we'll have more conversations with Ben, and we'll have to know what the cap number is to finalise some of those decisions."

Rooney would not say whether the Steelers would ask Roethlisberger to take a pay cut instead of restructuring his deal to spread the remaining $22.5m in guaranteed money across future seasons.  

He said: "I think that those are discussions we'll have with Ben and his representative. It takes two to figure that out, and whether we can agree with what he wants, we'll just have to see."

Rooney added the Steelers remain open to Roethlisberger, who turns 39 in March, returning next season despite his advanced age and decline in play during the second half of a 2020 campaign that ended with a disappointing home loss to the Cleveland Browns in the AFC Wild Card playoff round. 

"We owe it to him to have a conversation about how he wants to end his career, and we intend to that," he said.

Roethlisberger made a successful comeback from a career-threatening elbow injury that limited him to two games in 2019, though his effectiveness waned as last season wore on.

The six-time Pro Bowler threw for 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions while producing a 103.0 passer rating through the first nine games – all Pittsburgh wins. He was intercepted six times with an 83.2 rating over the next six as the Steelers went 3-3 and eventually dropped to the AFC's number three playoff seed.

Roethlisberger did set an NFL postseason record with 47 completions while throwing for 501 yards and four touchdowns in Pittsburgh's lone playoff game but was picked off four times as the Steelers were dealt a 48-37 loss to the Browns.

Despite the rough ending to 2020 for himself and his team, Roethlisberger expressed confidence that both remain capable of performing at a high level next season.

"I am pretty sure I want to go one more year," he said. "I think I can do it and give us a real chance at winning."

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