Ben Roethlisberger’s future remains to be determined

USA TODAY Sports

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger‘s red eyes and wet cheeks said plenty about his future. His decision to linger on the bench long after the game ended said plenty about his future. When he met with the media via video conference after Sunday night’s playoff loss to the Browns, Roethlisberger didn’t say much about his future.

“Well it’s gonna start between me and God,” Roethlisberger said regarding the looming decision on whether to continue to play. “A lot of praying. And then, you know, a lot of talking with my family, discussions, decisions. And, you know, I still have a year left on my contract. I hope the Steelers want me back, if that’s the way we go. There’ll be a lot of discussions, but now’s not the time for that.”

The reference to having a year left on his contract, and to the Steelers wanting him back, likely wasn’t an accident. Roethlisberger has received $12.5 million that he hasn’t yet earned; if he retires, the Steelers have the right to ask for all of it back. If they cut him, he owes nothing.

“I hope the Steelers want me back,” he said. His cap number of $41.25 million becomes official on March 17, at a time when the total team spending limit may be as low as $175 million. If they want him back, they need to him sign an extension that kicks the cap can to a future year.

What if he says, “I’m just going to play out my contract”? The Steelers may have to release him in order to reduce his cap charge by $19 million. And then he’d become a free agent, able to sign with a new team if he wants.

It’s impossible to envision Roethlisberger in any other uniform. Just like it was impossible to envision Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Brett Favre or Philip Rivers in any other uniform. Maybe Ben will decide that he wants to keep playing, but that he wants a fresh start.

These are the options: (1) retire; (2) play; (3) force a release in order to avoid owing $12.5 million and retire; or (4) force a release and sign with another team.

It’s a story that will hover over the team and the league for the next two months. And if the Steelers end up moving on, they’d better have a solid fallback plan at the position or they could be left in the AFC North’s dust, given that the division features star quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Joe Burrow.

47 responses to “Ben Roethlisberger’s future remains to be determined

  1. He wants assurances that the Steelers won’t go after his bonus. If he gets that then he retires. Otherwise he shows up for camp and forces their hand.

  2. He sure sat on the bench by himself for a long time after the game ended. Almost like a man who was taking it all in because it was going to be the last time. Ain’t sayin…just sayin….

  3. It was a great run and a great career but it’s over. The man that will replace him always reminded me of Big Ben. Carson Wentz will be the next great Steelers quarterback. With those receivers Wentz will be lethal! Don’t be surprised if the Steelers go 14 – 2 and win the big game next season!

  4. He needs to think about his long term health. While he still has an arm, his mobility is like that of a 75+ year old man. He doesn’t have anything to prove and needs to enjoy life without another major injury. Steelers could also use a fresh start.

  5. He will most likely want to keep playing as most players do, but I don’t think he has much left in the tank. He looks like he hurts everywhere. He’s slower at 37 than Brady is at 42. And even though he owns my Bengals I’ll miss watching him play.

  6. This team has a lot of issues, the least of which are BB7. Let’s talk about coaching; who is in Mike Tomlin’s “coaching tree” ? And don’t say Mike Munchak or Bruce Arians.
    This guy has never developed an assistant coach in his career. No other team is beating down the door to hire Randy Fichner or Keith Butler. The game plans are crap, in-game adjustments are non-existent, clock management is an after-thought, and Pittsburgh owns the worst penalty challenge record in history. Tomlin is extremely overrated.

  7. I don’t know why people would be happy about Roethlisberger possibly leaving the game. Any time a legend leaves the NFL is it is a little disappointing.

    I think he needs to take his time to make that decision. What I think we’ve seen is that the Steelers will never win a Super Bowl with him again.

    But does he want to go out with a more competitive game than he had here? This team was 12-4 and there were losses that were downright embarrassing.

    Had COVID not been an issue maybe this is a 13-3, 14-2 team.

    Part of me is kind of curious about what he’d do in a different uniform. For all the people acting like it can’t happen, who expected to see Manning in a Broncos jersey or Brady playing for Tampa Bay?

    A team like the Raiders would be very interesting.

  8. I get that it’s hard to admit when you are done with something.

    But man, you have multiple rings and more money than you can spend and have had a long career.

    You also have had multiple surgeries , are pushing 40,and just got ripped up.

    I know the steelers are coming off 12 wins – but the division also has 2 teams in the browns and ravens that look to be a force for a long time to come.

    It comes to an end for everyone. This is his.

  9. Just like the Steelers did with Troy the will force him into retirement. They can save 19 million on the cap plus Pouncey will retire with him that’s another 8 million in savings .which is enough to bring Juju and Bud. Cut Haden and Williams bring back Sutton and Hilton. Have tons of cap space for the 22 season so if you don’t draft a QB let Rudolph and Winston type compete for the job next season

  10. Funny how nobody mention Big Ben not diving on the ball on this high snap fumble to open the game, à la Cam Newton…

  11. Thank goodness we have a deadline of March 17th so this drama doesn’t play out all offseason. For a long time it was always a Ravens/Steelers rivalry in the AFCN with Patriots added in for the greater AFC. Funny how things change over time.

  12. Hopefully he hangs it up here. He didn’t play very well this year. I think his ypa was under 6 yards for a guy who regularly averaged 8 when no one else in the league got over 7.5 during his prime. The Steelers will be fine because they will identify and groom the next guy the right way from the ground up, and the rest of the team is stacked for a young guy to thrive like he did young. It’s just like how they don’t fire their head coaches and benefit from the stability when they resist firing good ones because people think change for the sake of change is good despite the rest of the league clearly showing you that’s foolish.

  13. Conceivably you could have Alex Smith, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Big Ben all hanging it up after the seasons ends. Four very good to great QB’s.

    Out with the old, in with the new.

  14. I had tears in my eyes when I saw Big Ben crying after the game. My tears were from laughing so hard. GO BROWNS!!!

  15. Despite last night, it appears he is still an above average qb, top 10-12, maybe. But with his age and cap hit next year, I cant see the Steelers signing off on that without major contractual remodifications. Maybe it is time, Ben.

  16. This is lined up perfectly for the Texans. Trade JJ for Ben. Then, trade Watson for a butt-load of picks/players. You know, the ones squandered by O’Brien! Might get a good QB prospect in the draft if they’re smart. Ben has a few years left.

  17. Aw, c’mon people. The most likely scenario is he restructures. What better choice do the Steelers have? Only way he leaves is if he wants to retire, whereby the company says, enjoy your nice parting gift and he doesn’t need to repay the money. I’d say the Seelers won’t want to take a step back and will want him if he will do it.

  18. he is going to drag this on all through the summer, all the while hinting at all his accumulated injuries so everyone can be in awe of his “toughness”. Favre 2.0

  19. dualprime says:
    January 11, 2021 at 11:30 am
    This is lined up perfectly for the Texans. Trade JJ for Ben. Then, trade Watson for a butt-load of picks/players. You know, the ones squandered by O’Brien! Might get a good QB prospect in the draft if they’re smart. Ben has a few years left.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    Trade a QB who tossed 33 TDs/ 10 INTs /3,800 yards for a player who had 36 tackles and 5 sacks? Yeah, seams about even. Ever heard of the salary cap, bro?

  20. The Steelers wouldn’t ask for his bonus back and ethically speaking they shouldn’t. His pro-rated bonus is mostly salary that was converted to bonus for the Steelers’ cap purposes and not true bonus money.

  21. bornsteel62 says:
    January 11, 2021 at 10:17 am
    This team has a lot of issues, the least of which are BB7. Let’s talk about coaching; who is in Mike Tomlin’s “coaching tree” ? And don’t say Mike Munchak or Bruce Arians.
    This guy has never developed an assistant coach in his career. No other team is beating down the door to hire Randy Fichner or Keith Butler. The game plans are crap, in-game adjustments are non-existent, clock management is an after-thought, and Pittsburgh owns the worst penalty challenge record in history. Tomlin is extremely overrated.

    59 10 Rate This
    ———————————–
    I think Tomlin is similar to Pete Carroll in that both are great coaches from monday to saturday, but one of the worst of sunday (game day).

  22. “Tomlin is extremely overrated.”
    ____________

    That choice to punt on 4th and 1 at midfield at the start of the 4th quarter was just bizarre. They’d cut it to two scores at that time and were on a roll. How does he fail to take advantage of that?

  23. fanfrommontreal says:
    January 11, 2021 at 10:28 am
    Funny how nobody mention Big Ben not diving on the ball on this high snap fumble to open the game, à la Cam Newton…

    ————————
    It was talked about quite a bit on GMFB this morning.

  24. He doesn’t need to force a release. The Steelers signed him to that contract. They can either pay him (cap hit $40 million) or cut him (cap hit $20 million). I wouldn’t sign an extension unless I planned on playing it out. Business is business.

  25. He just threw for 500 yards. He’s not retiring. Steelers need better RB and WR.
    And next time don’t rest on week 17.

  26. Roethlisberger certainly still has the talent to be a top QB, and the Steelers have no other talented QBs, so the decision comes down to his desire versus the injuries. Regardless, the Steelers need to draft another QB to mold for the future.

  27. Pouncey’s hike started the madness. Add to that tipped balls leading to pics…
    It was the perfect storm for the Browns. Every 27 years this can happen

  28. He stormed the league and made a name for himself on the field. Young and hungry, he won it all. I think he has a few more winning seasons under his belt, but the prize is out of reach IMO. Just needs to enjoy his life.

  29. He’s a shell of his former self, but he’s still probably better than any other realistic options they have.

  30. dejadoh says:
    January 11, 2021 at 1:02 pm
    He just threw for 500 yards. He’s not retiring. Steelers need better RB and WR.
    And next time don’t rest on week 17.

    ~~~~

    I’m a bit confused. If he needs better RB and WRs who what he throwing to for 501 yards? The TEs sure didn’t catch all those passes. Their skilled positions are good, the turnovers killed them. Steelers need a strategy for the next QB.

  31. other than eliminating turnovers what the Steelers needed last night was better play from the D-Line. Cleveland’s patch work O-Line held up well against Pittsburgh. Wished that Joe Thomas could have been on field enjoying last night as a player.

  32. With a QB on the decline,a not quite good enough HC and a team culture that allows/abets idiots (Bell, Brown,Juju…) the Steelers may not be the kind of dumpster fire that the Jets, Eagles and Cowboys are but they need work.

  33. He will be a free agent and play one more year for the Steelers. 12 million cheaper for the Steelers and still good money for a 39 year old talented but injury prone quarterback. No Pouncey which would be good. He was becoming severely overrated.

  34. Here’s my opinion for what it’s worth – yes Ben and the Steelers started out horribly last night. They are not a team that comes off a rest week well.

    Need to clean house at the Head Coach and Offensive / Defensive Coordinator levels. For me the turning point in that game was when Tomlin didn’t go for the 4th and 1. In his press conference he said he wanted to keep momentum and pin the Browns deep in their own territory. If the Steelers make that first down, the momentum swings and the outcome might have been different.

    Also, JuJu and Chase need to keep their mouths shut. Since when did they become AB.2?

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