Ben Roethlisberger says he's 'leaning towards' playing for Steelers in 2017

One of the bigger offseason surprises came when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger put everyone on notice when he revealed he was thinking about not playing football in the future .

Roethlisberger told a radio station he would evaluate whether or not he’d come back and was entirely non-committal about playing football again moving forward.

“I’m gonna take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options, to consider health and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season -- if there’s gonna be a next season. All those things. At that point in my career and my age I feel like that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

Everyone kind of took it with a grain of salt; after all, how could a guy like Roethlisberger walk away from the game of football when he’s still playing at a high level and the Steelers have a championship window? Maybe he was just blowing off some steam or sending a message?

There’s some good news on that front, as Roethlisberger indicated he was probably going to play while speaking at a men’s conference at Liberty University over the weekend.

“I’m leaning towards it,” Roethlisberger said, via the Observer-Reporter’s Dale Lolley.

The Steelers did their due diligence in terms of providing lip service to Roethlisberger’s comments after he made them. Mike Tomlin said “you do take it seriously” and GM Kevin Colbert said he planned on Ben playing but the Steelers would address the quarterback position if he decided to walk away from football.

Realistically, there was no way Roethlisberger would leave given his situation. The Steelers have a key core of players on offense, with Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown serving as the nucleus for one of the most explosive offenses in football.

But this is actually something he’s talked about before, mentioning back in September that he wanted to quit playing as early as 2008 when he got sacked a bunch of times against the Eagles

On the other hand, Roethlisberger has a pretty huge contract with the Steelers and stands to make more than $45 million over the next three years. He would be giving up a whole lot of money if he decided to walk away from football.

So more than likely he’s just sending out an early notice that he doesn’t plan to play forever. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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