Roethlisberger contract looms over Steelers’ season


It was no accident that, in an “exclusive” interview with the website he ultimately owns, Steelers president Art Rooney II declared that his most important employee, Ben Roethlisberger, won’t be getting a new contract until after the 2014 season.  Obivously, the Steelers wanted to push their version — the practical equivalent of a press release — to the public before Roethlisberger had a chance to share his own narrative.

Roethlisberger has now shared his own narrative.  And it goes a little something like this:  I want $20 million per year.

He should.  Lesser quarterbacks with fewer Super Bowl wins already get that much and more.  Despite having an $18.895 million cap number pumped up by restructurings in past years that helped the team stay on the right side of the salary cap, Roethlisberger gets $12.1 million in 2014.  Next year, the final season of his long-term contract, Ben will receive $11.6 million.

“Playing this year at my current salary, it’s kind of taking a hometown discount,” Roethlisberger told Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.  “I’ve played seven years on my current contract, which is the most of any [NFL] player or any quarterback. . . .  It is kind of taking a discount compared to maybe where it could be compared to other quarterbacks.”

On one hand, no one forced Roethlisberger to commit through 2015.  On the other hand, his currently resides well below market value.  Although he has two years left on his contract, that’s typically when the Steelers have addressed quarterback deals in the past.

“Usually the Steelers do a quarterback deal with two years to go, which would be this year. . . .  It’s kind of a unique thing,” Roethlisberger said.

He could have said a lot of words other than “unique.”

While Roethlisberger said he “prays” he can stay with the Steelers, he added that he must “do what’s best for his family.” That’s a mild adjustment to his comments from the 2013 season, when reports attributed to “Steelers sources” from the national network the Steelers partially own indicated that Roethlisberger possibly wanted to be trade, forcing Roethlisberger to declare that he never wants to leave.

Is it that crazy to think the Steelers may have leaked the information (before officially denying its accuracy, of course) in order to cajole from an angry Roethlisberger the kind of strong verbal commitment to stay that would make it a lot harder for him to threaten to leave if he doesn’t eventually get top dollar?

I’d retire before I’d accept a trade,” Roethlisberger said at the time.

Whether that works remains to be seen.  He told Robinson that the Broncos have built a Super Bowl team around Peyton Manning, despite paying him $15 million this year and carrying a cap charge of $17.5 million.  With the salary cap going up $10 million in 2014 and expected to begin an annual series of spikes, the Steelers should be able to pay Roethlisberger market value.

Then again, the only way to get true market value is to get to the market.  The Steelers hold Roethlisberger’s rights through 2015, and an $18.395 million cap number next year would drive his franchise tender to $22.074 million.  If the Steelers opt for the exclusive version of the tag (which probably wouldn’t increase the tender beyond $22.074 million), Roethlisberger will have to play for the Steelers, or no one.

Under that formula, freedom may not come until 2017, when Roethlisberger would be due to make $26.4888 million, at a time when he’ll still be three years younger than Peyton Manning is right now.

It all becomes moot if the Steelers work Roethlisberger out to a long-term deal after the season.  But if he believes he’s already giving the Steelers a hometown discount, he may not be inclined to do it again.  Which could make it harder to find a middle ground that both sides find acceptable.

77 responses to “Roethlisberger contract looms over Steelers’ season

  1. How many Super Bowl MVPs?…Zero.

    Steelers won those Super Bowls despite Ben, not because of Ben.

    Go ahead and click thumbs down.

  2. of course they won’t redo his contract. 28 tds and 14 int’s last year they want him to play for less money because he does not deserve big money,

  3. After the Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Mr. Rooney thanked President Obama (for some reason) but he should have thanked Ben Roethlisberger.

    No way the Steelers have 6 trophies without Big Ben.

    Pay the man!

  4. The cap number is lower but he has gotten a lot of bonus money and has made nearly $100 Million over the last sox years. Shut up Ben

  5. Pros: tough, physically gifted, elusive.

    Cons: unlikable and dumb.

    Now that he’s getting older and losing those physical gifts and elusiveness, it’s a good time for Pittsburgh to look to its future. Goodbye, you misogynistic dummy.

  6. Ben won 2 Super Bowls because he played two of the worst NFC representatives in Super Bowl history. Once he played a formidable opponent … he lost.

  7. Yeah, his contract isn’t really an issue. He’s got two years left still, not one. Next year the cap goes up again and both the Steelers and Ben know it, so next year is the time to get something done. Expect negotiations to only pick up after we all find out what next years call will look like. He’ll get his extension, it’ll be market value and he’ll retire as a Steeler.

  8. Ben has a $18.895 million cap number this year.. Roethlisberger gets $12.1 million in 2014. It’s not much of a home discount he got the 6 million up front in a restructure is why it’s 18 million..

    The Steelers won SB43 because of Ben! Despite what kd75 says! He could of easily gotten the SB MVP that game! Haters gonna hate!

    Ben is a top QB in the NFL & best in the AFCN! Just turned 32. plenty of years left. Ben will be paid so need to make anything of it.. The media wants a story but Ben is at camp not complaining about it not a distraction, while the media is trying to make one..

  9. what a surprise that the Rooney interview with self-serving comments about how “Big ben just wants to win!” turned out to be completely bogus to avoid paying him. Duh, he wants to get paid like everyone else.

    He should hold out, he aint playing till 40 like Manning, his body is 60 years old. Not his fault the Steelers suck at managing their cap

  10. Ben had 16 touchdowns against just 5 interceptions in the final 7 games last year after the team finally unleashed him and their no huddle formation. That was also exactly when the offensive line finally got it together, giving up only 7 sacks in the last 7 games. All of that is very connected.

    With Mike Munchak on board this year, an improved offensive line and a likely very improved during game to empower higher quality play action, I expect the Steelers offense to pick up right where they left off last year. All you trolls can climb back under all your bridges, straight to your vans down by your rivers. Ben’s going to be just fine.

    Go Steelers!

  11. OK trolls, lets look at some truths!
    Joe Montana needs 4 Ray Wershing FG to beat Cincy yet he was MVP.
    Brady needed 2 last second Vintiari Fg to win 2of his Super Bowls and his first Super Bowl passed for JUST 145 yards and was MVP!
    Ben has more rings than Peyton, Brees, Rodgers and Romo!

  12. Love the comments, how many from teams that never won a Super Bowl let alone win any. Ben has gone to three and one two. A lot of sour grapes when it comes to articles of any member of the Steelers. If this was any other QB who has a contract ending and deserving more would be a complete different story.

  13. It’s clear that the beating he has taken over the years from his swiss cheese o-line has put his future longevity into question. Anyone with eyes can see he’s gotten slower. Not saying he is no longer very good, but he’s already peaked. If he wants 20 million a year he needs to play like it. Those quarterbacks getting more who are supposedly not better than him still have upsides and way less wear and tear on their bodies.

  14. He is not taking a home town discount. He is collecting on a 7 year contract, (and got a big signing bonus up front to commit that long), and one of only 3 players in the nfl to play out that long of a contract, continue to get it restructured, while collecting the full $100 mil. (IE getting full salary converted up front to cash signing bonus), and not having to take a reduction in pay. I like him as a player, and don’t deny the guy his due, but he loses me crying about a home town discount.

  15. The best players in the NFL all get paid. If they don’t get if from their own team then they do in FA. That’s a fact since they’ve signed the CBA. Ben is still a top tier QB so relax…

  16. As a QB, Roethlisberger is above average–as a person, he leaves much to be desired. I’ve never heard a nice quote about him from any teammate he’s had. Though he was never convicted of sexual assault, it doesn’t mean he didn’t do it. Crimes are committed every day where the guilty parties are not caught, or they get away with it later. How any professional athlete can be unhappy making millions of dollars is beyond my comprehension. I wish all of them would shut up about their pay.

  17. Roth was given his two SB “victories” by the assistance of the refs. They really have 0 Super Bowls. Meanwhile, the Jets earned their Super Bowl win with the greatest QB of all time, Joe Namath! They will have 2 after this season!

    #Geno=Top 5 QB

  18. So here’s a really simply question:

    Would you rather
    a) Pay Ben $20M per year


    b) Have either Bruce Gradkowski or Landry Jones be your starting QB, and wish that you had drafted Johnny Manziel, as you watch him win the division with the Cleveland Browns?

    He has made the Steelers TENS of millions of dollars above and beyond his contract, especially with the 2 SB victories.

    Yes it’s a business, but he’s the face of your franchise. It’s simply a short-sighted and frankly egotistical take by the Steelers front office for someone who had given them more than enough.

  19. Wait, if Ray Rice (known good guy and anti-bullying advocate) deserves to be suspended for a year for [allegedly] hitting a woman and serving no jail time as MANY Steelers/Roethlisberger fans were quick to shout…shouldn’t Ben have been castrated, or burned at the stake, or sent to Israel with a pro-Hamas t-shirt on for his past RAPE allegations? I guess winning cures all [alleged] wrongs. Or [allegedly] hitting a woman is worse than [allegedly] raping her. One of the two.

  20. Honestly, I really don’t think there’s as much here as you and other news outlets are making it out to be.

    Yes, Ben wants and clearly deserves a contract in the $20 million / year range. The Steelers, for their part, are not stupid and they know that they won’t get away with a hometown discount here. When you have a franchise QB, you have to write the check. They know that.

    The reality of their cap situation this year was such that they wouldn’t be able to extend him AND re-sign guys like Pouncey (ie integral pieces), so they made the decision to put Ben’s deal off for another year.

    Fast forward a year, the cap will be markedly higher, and Ben will get very close to the deal he wants. End of story.

  21. Normally, when I read comments like these, I want to respond immediately and unpleasantly. This time, I went and vomited first; now, “have a nice day everyone”.

  22. He sounds pissed and he and his agent want to put the heat on … they have very little to gain and a lot to lose by playing on the old contract this season. He gets hurt, or has a stinker, his deal goes down, but he if does nothing he gets a top five deal, this year or next.

    Business is business. Faux Rage is a part of negotiations …

  23. In 2012 he could not get the #1 defense in the entire NFL into the playoffs. Hardly a $20 million dollar quarterback. He gets beaten by the very lowest bottom feeding quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Roethlisberger just does not score points and is not a difference maker. His specialty is the Steeler defense handing him seven or eight 13-9 wins each season.

    If that does not happen neither do the playoffs.

  24. Rivers and Eli Manning are in the same boat, but you don’t hear them squalking to the media. Both have 2 yrs left on an under market deal, although they make more than Roethlisberger. When BB signed his deal, it was a good deal. Be a good teamate, shut up and play. If I were the Steelers, I’d take a wait and see attitude too. Let’s see it for one more yr. Nice he decides to finally get in shape in a contract yr. Maybe he’ll watch a little film too. If he had Brady’s work ethic, he could have been great, instead of a fat, lazy, skirt chasing frat boy.

  25. Since Roethlisberger didn’t force himself on THEIR daughters, Steelers fans will go on loving him.

  26. He’ll get that 20 mil per season …. If his TD to INT ratio is impressive, make the playoffs, and a Super Bowl wouldn’t hurt.

    But if the running game picks up, not including closing out games, dominating through out the season, … He may have to settle in the area of 65-75 million and retire with the Steelers. You have to do the math. A QB eating that much of the salary cap, has to be able to make up for lack of continuity due to the loss of players. We’ll see. Either way, should be an exciting season.

  27. Being a long time Steelers fan I say pay him. Imagine how many more SBs the Steelers would have won with a franchise QB? Tired of the trash heap from the post-Bradshaw era. Brister, Malone, O’donell, Stewart, Maddox, etc. We have a stud QB right now. Don’t let him get away!

  28. The gall of this guy…he’s lucky he’s not doing time in the pen, now he wants $ 20 mil a year?!?!

    Can you suspend a player for being ignorant ?
    If so, Ben’s doing 32 games.

  29. He should do this the Stealers way, just have one of his bodyguards slip a roofie in Rooneys drink.
    Then after he screws the team he can say it was consensual.

  30. Poor baby! Do what’s right for his family? It must be tough putting food on the table at that salary. Waaay Overpaid.

  31. Kremis you are a moron. Can you say anything besides Tebow is your man crush? There are only 2 qbs in the league better than ben. Manning and Brady. Ben and brees flip a coin for 3/4



    In 10 years he’s had as many 100+ qb rated seasons as Wilson has had in two years.

    Rodgers 6 of 9.

    No. BR isn’t 3rd best QB. Actually prob. not top 10.

  32. Not happy with the Steelers handling of this. I hope Ben has an MVP Type year and they have to pay him more than they could now. Ben was Awesome last half of last year. SMH.

  33. Tough call! When you have pick-at the end of every Packer game or I quit Jay Cutler making more $$$
    ! I guess Me and my rings would be down!

  34. I think PFT readers should read the article and make up their own mind, because we all know where Florio stands on this- Florio wants Ben to have more money so much, you’d think he’s Ben’s agent.

    I don’t think Ben is particularly underpaid. Payton/Eli makes 15m a year. Brady took a “hometown discount” too. So Ben’s situation isn’t as precarious or unique as PFT wants you to believe.

  35. Wait, did I just see Holmes using the ball as a prop? I must not have since there wasn’t a flag. I hope Ben kicked some of his money to the officials retirement fund…they’re the reason he has two rings.

  36. If Ben wants to make what he is really worth he should put his money where his mouth is and have performance clauses put into his contract. But neither he nor any other loud mouth player will generally do this because they want to have their cake and eat it too.

  37. He is an OLD 32 due to style of play (and poor O-lines) on an aging roster badly in need of a total overhaul. Smart play is to not sign him to a big new contract, esp w/ 2 years remaining.

    Discreetly shop him around, if no one bites, release him next offseason and start the rebuilding in earnest.

  38. I find it hilarious that haters say they won despite Ben. Steelers had some good defenses since Bradshaw but they weren’t winning superbowls then. They don’t even make the Superbowl without Ben. Remember the Betti’s fumble and the game winning tackle by Ben against the Colts. Az final drive in the 08 Superbowl was as sweet as any. He needs to get paid but I think the Rooney’s want to see what the cap does next year to make sure the contract is spread out, and works for both sides.

  39. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the reason you can enjoy football today. This is what we built. We are the NFL. We are football. We are God's team. says:

    We have never made a mistake.

  40. Oh BTW could someone name a team that won a Superbowl without a top flight defense?

  41. You can’t on one hand can not give Peyton or marino their due because of lack of rings while at the same time not give Ben his due because his rings came vs “poor” opponents in the SB. Either rings speak for themselves or then everything is now a gray area up for interpretation

  42. The Steelers will pay the man when the time is right. They, unlike so many clueless types on the message board, know his true and high value. They know how rare it is to have a true Franchise QB like Roethlisberger. They know he wins despite having no offensive line, little run support, and how he bails out his defense time and again when they fade late.

    Most of all they know without Ben the Super Bowl trophy total is still stuck at 4.

  43. In the Steelers’ 3 most recent Super Bowl seasons, Roethlisberger threw just 17 TD passes in each of those 3 seasons.
    In the 2 Super Bowl wins, he threw 1 TD pass and 3 interceptions. In 3 Super Bowls, Roethlisberger has thrown 3 TD passes and 5 interceptions, including a pick-7 in a 6-point loss.
    In 14 postseason games, he’s thrown 18 TD passes and 14 picks. Take away his incredible 3-game playoff performance of 2005 (7 TD passes, 1 pick), Roethlisberger has thrown 11 TD passes and 13 picks in the Steelers’ other 11 playoff games.
    If you actually believe this body of work is worth $20 million per season, you better take up a collection.

  44. To me, the doll in the picture looks more like Charlie Batch. Give it to the Ravens D as a gift, they probably still have nightmares about CB.

  45. So many jealous haters on Steeler threads. Enjoy ripping Ben now because he will be the reason you all will be crying in your beers on Sundays very soon.

  46. They know they made a mistake keeping him under contact for so long and are finally getting rid of him. If the Steelers ever want to get anywhere they have to find a good QB. He’s not worth it and should have been kicked out of the league years ago for his offseason issues. That goes for any player that has those kinds of issues-not just him.

  47. While Roethlisberger said he “prays” he can stay with the Steelers, he added that he must “do what’s best for his family.”

    Sheez… not many family can survive in this day and age on just $12M/year! Have you seen the cost of a gallon of milk these days?!! Not to mention the cost of lawyers to get you off the hook for your stupid lawless actions and medical expenses for being an irresponsible idiot…

    I understand he thinks he is being underpaid and wants his fair share as he has given his all to the team, but don’t make me wanna puke with this “for the family” crap. Get me a hanky. Better yet, keep it real big Ben…

  48. Take away his incredible 3-game playoff performance of 2005 (7 TD passes, 1 pick),…
    This is brilliant: if you take out all of the playoff games leading up to his first SB win, when he managed a 7:1 TD/Int ratio, he’s not that good. Mind you, that was the Steelers first SB in 25+ years, and first of 2 SB wins for BR, but hey, just throw out those stats. Might as well just throw out all post-season stats, heck regular season even. Just let me know how BR was in preseason and then we can see if he’s worth a big payday.

  49. Yep, and Roethlisberger’s passer rating was a robust 22 in Super Bowl 40. Very impressive. His passer rating in the first half of Super Bowl 45 was 18.
    I actually believe he can play another 10 seasons. I mean, it’s not like he has to adhere to high standards among the media and fan base. You people evidently want to keep him around, and the organization in salary-cap purgatory, purely for sentimental reasons.

  50. Well Every One Talks About The Elite…Brees…Brady…P. Manning. In the last tens years Ben has won more Superbowls than any of them and he is 5 or 6 years younger than 2 of them. Nuff Said!

  51. bobz, just want to clarify. The playoff games leading up to the SB shouldn’t count in his stats, but the SB should. I think I got it, though it is hard to remember what kick you’re on day to day.

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