Ben Roethlisberger will be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers' plans in 2021. On Wednesday, Steelers president Art Rooney II formally issued a statement confirming the team's plans to have Roethlisberger back for an 18th season.
As he did last month, Rooney reiterated that Roethlisbeger's contract will have to be reworked. Roethlisberger has a base salary of $4 million, a roster bonus of $15 million (that is slated to be paid on March 19) while carrying a cap hit of over $41 million.
"Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday morning and we had a productive meeting," Rooney said in a statement. "We were able to discuss a lot of things that related to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship.
"We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben's contract situation."
The 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Roethlisberger's career milestones include two Super Bowl wins and three Super Bowl appearances. Roethlisberger's game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII is part of NFL lore. Three years earlier, he became the youngest quarterback to win the Super Bowl as well as the first quarterback to win the title with a sixth-seeded playoff team.
The 2004 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Roethlisberger led a Pittsburgh team that went 6-10 the prior season to a 15-1 record. Over the next 17 years, the Steelers never had a losing record with Roethlisberger under center. His run of success includes 11 playoff appearances, eight division titles and 13 winning seasons.
Roethlisberger's 169 career wins (including playoffs) are the fifth-highest total in NFL history. His 67% winning percentage is higher than Hall of Fame quarterbacks Brett Favre, John Elway, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Fran Tarkenton, among others. It is also higher than contemporaries Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning.
One of just a dozen starting quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls, Roethlisberger is seventh all time in career passing yards and eighth in career touchdown passes. His 5,129 passing yards during the 2018 season are the seventh-highest total in NFL history.
Early in his career, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Roethlisberger was nicknamed "Big Ben" for his ability to shed off would-be tacklers with apparent ease. Roethlisberger's throwback style was quickly embraced by Pittsburgh, a city that prides itself on having blue-collar football teams. That style, however, often overshadowed Roethlisberger's ability as a passer, as he was selected to just two Pro Bowls during his first eight seasons.
Roethlisberger's passing prowess started to receive more recognition during the back half of his career. With Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown as his running mates, Roethlisberger won his first passing title in 2014 while earning the first of four consecutive Pro Bowl berths. In 2015, he led the NFL in average passing yards per game despite missing parts of eight games with injuries. The following season, Roethlisberger helped the Steelers advance to the AFC title game for the fifth time in his career. But like the first time, the Steelers fell short to the Patriots, the only franchise that has won more Super Bowls during Roethlisberger's time in Pittsburgh.
In 2019, Roethlisberger missed 14 games after undergoing major elbow surgery. He returned with gusto in 2020, throwing 33 touchdowns while leading the Steelers to an 11-0 start. Pittsburgh was unable to maintain its hot start, however, losing four out of its final five games entering the playoffs.
Against the Browns in the wild card round, the Steelers trailed 35-7 before cutting the deficit to 12 points entering the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh never got the deficit to within one score, however, as the Steelers suffered their first playoff loss to the Browns. And while Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards and four touchdowns in defeat, his four interceptions played a significant role in the loss.
Roethlisberger will return to a radically different roster from the one he left at the end of the 2020 campaign. Former offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner has been replaced by Matt Canada, who spent last season as Pittsburgh's quarterbacks coach. Roethlisberger will likely be without former Pro Bowl receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. He will also be without center Maurkice Pouncey, who announced his retirement earlier this month.
Despite those changes and losses, Roethlisberger will still have several formidable weapons at his disposal for the 2021 season. Among those weapons include receivers Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson, and tight end Eric Ebron. Roethlisberger will also be complemented by a talented defense that includes linebackers T.J. Watt and Devin Bush, defensive linemen Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, and defensive backs Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick.