Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is grossly underpaid. And he isn’t making a stink about it.
Last year, both Roethlisberger and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had two years left on increasingly below-market deals, with Roethlisberger at $21.85 million per year and Rodgers at $22 million per year. But while Rodgers clamored for a new deal (and got one, worth $33.5 million annually in new money), Roethlisberger remained patient.
This year, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, at $21.9 million per year, has set an April 15 deadline for a long-term deal to replace the last year of his current contract. Roethlisberger, entering the last year of his own deal, has said or done nothing to apply pressure, directly or indirectly, to the Steelers.
This isn’t about knocking Rodgers or Wilson for trying to get better deals; every player with leverage should. But it’s noteworthy that Roethlisberger, who routinely receives criticism for being a bad teammate and leader, hasn’t done something that even a good teammate and leader would be justified in doing: Trying to get more for himself and his family.
Roethlisbeger may indeed get more, but he’s not driving the kind of bargain that Rodgers was a year ago and Wilson is now, even if Roethlisberger could. Although he’s a far cry from Tom Brady‘s bargain-basement contracts, if Ben were as selfish as he’s portrayed it would be very easy for him to make comments about his substandard deal, and to instigate via his agent the kind of agitation that would force the Steelers to eventually choose between a franchise-tag fiasco or a trip to the open market.
With a cap number of $23.2 million this year, Roethlisberger could put the Steelers in position to pay $27.84 million in 2020, $33.4 million in 2021, and $48.1 million in 2022. But the possibility of a year-to-year cap mess or a departure from Pittsburgh has never even landed on the radar screen of possible outcomes. Which conflicts sharply with the manner in which many choose to regard Roethlisberger.