Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is set to turn 39 in March, but he appears set on playing in what will be his 18th NFL season. There is one obstacle he and the franchise will have to work through, however, and that's his contract.
According to Spotrac, Roethlisberger has a base salary of $4,000,000 and a roster bonus of $15,000,000 in 2021, while carrying a cap hit of $41,250,000. As CBS Sports' Joel Corry noted earlier this month, the Steelers compounded the Roethlisberger problem last March when they lowered his 2020 cap number from $33.5 million to $23.75 million by converting $19.5 million of his $21 million 2020 compensation into a signing bonus. Roethlisberger's 2021 cap number was raised by $9.75 million in the process. The Steelers would need to restructure his deal if they want to re-sign several important free agents, and recently, Roethlisberger made it clear that he's more than open to the idea.
On Thursday, Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic that he went to the Steelers first about restructuring 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," said Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh don't have too long to work out the details, as Roethlisberger's roster bonus is due on March 19. Still, this is a great development for the Steelers as it shows that their quarterback is set on playing in 2021 and also reveals that the two sides are on the same page about what they must do this offseason in order to have cap space to work with. Not long before Roethlisberger made these comments, Steelers owner Art Rooney II spoke about the "Big Ben" financial situation with reporters.
"Ben has been in. I haven't sat down with him myself yet, but he sat down with Coach Tomlin and Kevin (Colbert). Ben wants to come back, so we've left that door open," Rooney II said, via Jim Wexell of 247Sports. "We've been, I think, up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract and so I think he understands we have some work to do there. We'll have more conversations. We'll have more conversations internally. We'll have more conversations with Ben. Obviously we'll have to know what the cap number is at some point to finalize some of those decisions."
Recently, optimism was reportedly growing when it came to the Steelers and Roethlisberger finding a way to stay together in 2021. In his first full season since undergoing major elbow surgery, the two-time Super Bowl champion completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Steelers began the 2020 season with an 11-0 record, but inconsistencies on offense as well as injuries led to a 1-4 finish. Those problems followed the Steelers into the postseason, as they fell to the Cleveland Browns, 48-37, in Super Wild-Card Weekend.