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Report: Roethlisberger's next contract could exceed $20M a year

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Will the Steelers be willing to pay Roethlisberger like one of the NFL's top QBs? (USATSI)
Over the weekend, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could ask the organization to explore possible trade offers this offseason. Hours later, Roethlisberger's agent, Steelers president Art Rooney II and Big Ben all refuted the report.

Roethlisberger later said "I'd retire before I'd accept a trade."

The Steelers' 2004 first-round pick currently has two years left on his existing deal; Roethlisberger's salary-cap hit in 2014 is $17.9 million and $17.4 million in 2015.

The NationalFootballPost.com's Jason Cole writes that the organization and Roethlisberger will likely discuss a contract extension this offseason, and the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback could be looking for more than $20 million a season. That would put him in the same company as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.

(Brees signed a five-year, $100 million deal in 2012 when he was 32. And both Rodgers and Ryan signed extensions that paid them more than $20 million a season. Big Ben also has three Super appearances, none of the others have more than one.)

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac wrote Wednesday that while the Steelers would typically renegotiate a new contract this offseason, their precarious cap situation could prevent it. There are ways around that, of course.

"They could always structure the deal so Roethlisberger wouldn't count as much against the cap next year as he would if they didn't sign him to a new deal," Dulac pointed out. "But, based on the Joe Flacco deal, the price of paying a quarterback, especially one with two Super Bowls victories, has gone way up. At a minimum, Roethlisberger is going to want $75 million over three years. And do the Steelers want to pay that?"

We'll know more this offseason, especially if renegotiations are tabled and the Steelers use a first-round pick on a quarterback. It seems unlikely, but if the organization deems Roethlisberger's contract demands unreasonable, finding the next franchise QB makes sense.

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