In recent years, the Steelers’ annual game of salary-cap limbo has included a restructuring of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract. But after three straight years of converting salary to signing bonus in order to drive down cap numbers, Roethlisberger has only two years left on his contract.
What’s that, you say? Can’t he do an extension like the ones signed Wednesday by safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller?
In theory, Ben can. But the team knows that if he gets an extension, it’s not going to be another shuffling of dollars in the current year. Ben’s going to want a raise. A significant one.
And for good reason. His base salary for 2014 is a mere $12.1 million, with the rest of his bloated $18.895 million cap number coming from the base salaries converted to bonuses in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Meanwhile, lesser quarterbacks with fewer (or no) Super Bowl rings are making $20 million or more per year.
So the Steelers apparently will take a wait and see approach, unless Roethlisberger is willing to take less than full market value. (A deal in theory could come at any time; both sides have to date honored an agreement to not discuss the situation on or off the record.) If no new contract is negotiated, the Steelers won’t have to worry about Roethlisberger clamoring for a raise, thanks to his strong reaction to rumors from last year that he wants out. By already giving up his primary leverage, it’ll be hard for him to make a power play now.
Next year, when the salary cap keeps going up and Roethlisberger’s salary drops to $11.6 million and his age climbs to 33, Ben could be even more antsy. But he’ll still have a hard time getting out of the corner into which he has painted himself by declaring he wants to retire in Pittsburgh.