Rooney: We want Roethlisberger through 2015 and beyond

Ben Roethlisberger's future in Pittsburgh is still up in the air. (USATSI)
Ben Roethlisberger's future in Pittsburgh is still up in the air. (USATSI)

If you were trying to predict the future for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2013, you likely ended up awfully confused.

There was a report that Roethlisberger's next contract could exceed $20 million per season -- we assume with the Steelers -- and there was another report claiming Roethlisberger would ask for a trade this offseason (for the record, Roethlisberger said he would retire before he'd accept a trade).

On Wednesday, Steelers owner Art Rooney II made it clear with three reporters, via the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, that he wants to keep Roethlisberger beyond the end of his contract in 2015, but he also said the team isn't currently thinking about a contract extension.

The paper pointed out that the team usually extends its quarterbacks with two years left on their contract -- which would be about now -- but Rooney said that tradition was “not set in stone . . . it’s not something that’s automatic.’’

Either way, Roethlisberger will be an expensive asset for Pittsburgh for at least the next two seasons. He's scheduled to make $12.1 million in 2014 and $11.6 million in 2015 (with salary cap hits of about $18.9 million and $18.4 million, respectively).

Obviously, re-signing him to a richer deal would be more expensive.

As the Post Gazette's Gerry Dulac wrote in November, "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. 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?"

Right now, the answer, despite Rooney's words on Wednesday, is unclear.

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