With Ben Roethlisberger due to earn a base salary of $12.1 million in 2014, many have asked why the Steelers would be compelled in the coming offseason to extend his contract.
The problem, per a source with knowledge of the contract, is that Roethlisberger’s cap number approaches $19 million in 2014. Specifically, it’s $18.895 million.
The extra $6.795 million comes from three (yes, three) prior restructurings that entailed converting base salary to guaranteed payments in order to create cap space. With only two years left on the deal, another effort to shift weekly pay to a lump sum and drop the cap number becomes more difficult because the guaranteed money can be spread over only two years.
If, for example, $10 million of his $12.1 million base salary becomes a bonus, $5 million remains charged to 2014, with the other $5 million charged to 2015. Which will increase his 2015 cap number to $23.395 million — even though Roethlisberger’s base salary will be only $11.6 million in 2015.
The Steelers definitely need cap space. Per a league source, they have $132 million in commitments for 2014, despite having only 40 players under contract.
So the Steelers need to sign Roethlisberger to a new contract. The question becomes whether he wants to be paid like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, and Drew Brees, or whether Ben will take less, like Tom Brady did.
The Steelers need him to take less. If he refuses, then the Steelers have no choice but to consider their options, even if they currently have no intention of utilizing them.