What’s next for Ben Roethlisberger?

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers
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Near the end of Sunday night’s playoff loss to the Browns, the image of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sitting alone of the bench screamed through the TV, “It’s over.”

Whether it is or isn’t, or should be or shouldn’t, will be a subject of discussion and debate for weeks to come.

Roethlisberger will hint that he may be done, but he’ll eventually explain that he’s taking some time in order to make his future the subject of attention, locally and nationally. At least for a while. Then, he’ll let his decision be known.

If he retires, the Steelers will carry $22.25 million in dead cap space in his name next season. If he stays, Roethlisberger’s cap charge will be $41.25 million. An extension will be critical to knocking down that cap charge, even if he’s plays only one more year. (If he retires, the Steelers could seek repayment of $12.5 million in unearned signing bonus money.)

A decision needs to happen by the third day of the 2021 league year. That’s when Ben is due to earn a $15 million roster bonus. If he’s cut before the money becomes due, he’d owe the Steelers nothing. And if he refuses to re-do his contract, the Steelers possibility would cut him in lieu of having a $41.25 million cap charge on the books.

Roethlisberger turns 38 on March 2, and he looks every bit of it. Years of physical play, along with carrying around plenty of mass on his frame, have left him rickety. He supposedly has knee issues, even if they haven’t shown up on the injury report lately.

If Roethlisberger retires, he exits with a 501-yard game, fueled by a postseason-record 68 passes. But he also threw four interceptions. Most importantly, the Steelers lost to the Browns in Pittsburgh for the first time in Roethlisberger’s 17-year career.

We’ll post another story based on whatever he says during his post-game press conference. Who knows? Maybe he’ll say he’s done. Then again, maybe he doesn’t need to say anything. Maybe his demeanor on the sideline late in the game says it all.

57 responses to “What’s next for Ben Roethlisberger?

  1. He’s NOT retiring, but he’ll lead everyone on until May just to keep his name in the news. Tomlin is the one that needs to be shown the door. He just wasted another Pittsburgh team that had plenty of talent on both sides of the football.

  2. Time to move on from his outrageous cap hit. He doesn’t deserve the pay.

    We got young hungry upcomers that need to get paid.

  3. In fairness, younger QBs still won’t be able to snag snaps that sail 8 feet over their heads.

  4. The guy was actually shedding a tear sitting on the bench after the game.

    That says it all …. he’s crushed to be going out with that bad a game.

  5. Over. And Tomlin should be next. They got beat up at their own house in front of friends and family. JJSS prob gone as well. No money for a slot guy. Replacements on deck. Is Rudolph a starter?

  6. It’s been a tough year, but the Steelers started out with about 12 straight wins. They’re contenders. Big Ben probably feels tired right now, but he’s been a football player his entire life. He’ll probably go rest up a bit, and then start working out. He’s still an elite QB. There are a couple positions that I’m sure Ben would like to see the Steelers upgrade, and he might talk to the front office about that, and about what they’re thinking. If they’re on the same page, he’ll stay. If not, I could see him retiring. It’s been a HOF career. It doesn’t have to go on and on until you can’t move anymore.

  7. Big Ben will be back. Most NFL teams next year will play defense like the Browns did in tonights second half of the game.

  8. I think the Steelers have gotten a bit stale. A new qb and new coach might help. Not going for it on 4th and 1 in the 3rd qtr was kinda wimpy.

  9. Kudos to the Browns. They have one of the best fanbases in professional sports, and they deserve this win. Must be even sweeter against the big brother that tortured you for years. Good luck.

  10. Pittsburgh season ended the night Bud Dupree tore his ACL. They’ve been mediocre since and he effected not only the defense but the offenses ability to get the ball with better field positioning and allowing the offense to play a more control game and not have to be so offensively explosive. The defense has been giving up big plays ever since.

  11. Steelers were not ready to play, Ben’s poor play not withstanding. They need a QB, O-line, RB. They also need to soul search about Tomlin’s future. He has grossly underachieved, by any measure, especially with a HOF QB.

  12. Enjoy it Browns fans. This is the end us Bills fans always hoped we’d get with Brady in New England. We’ll take what we can get in beating Newton but this is the way to do it.

  13. I feel he’ll be done. And Ben, what a tremendous career buddy. Can’t wait for your HOF speech.

  14. It’s been a good career for him. There’s no shame in hanging it up now. Not every quarterback can be Tom Brady.

  15. The Steelers need to blow up the offense starting with the swift canning of the OC and OL coach followed by moving on from Ben, rebuilding the O Line and then emptying out the RB room.
    That side of the ball is pathetic and wreaks if being inept. The worst 12 win team to ever walk on a field. Sad to say, but saw it coming. If you didn’t, or just refused to admit it, you were fooling yourself. This offense drove me crazy all season and I can’t stand how absolutely unwatchable they are.

  16. After such a demoralizing loss and his poor performance despite the record setting stats, any player will question their ability to continue their career in the NFL. That is why they always wait several weeks or months to make such a life changing decision as to retire or not. Ben needs to wait until he and his family are thinking more clearly before hinting at anything.

  17. I hope he retires. You hate to go out on this note, but he is worn down from way more injuries than Brady or Brees. He can go off knowing he won 2 SB’s & will be first ballot HOF.

  18. Judging from the Steelers cap situation it looks like the Steelers put all of their chips into 2020. Their situation is much like the Patriots of a year ago and will happen to every team who has had success with a now aging quarterback, has had to pay players as a result, and has not had the luxury of top 10 draft picks where the next QB could be obtained. Also the Steelers have division opponents where 2 of them have drafted a QB #1 overall and another QB in Lamar that is a handful and will only get better. Ben is not as bad as he looks. Much like Brady of last year, Ben has been hampered by poor run game and receiving issues. If Ben were surrounded by the talent that Tom has in Tampa, then it would be a different story.

  19. He didn’t have a great game last night- lotd of high or wide passes. However, having a snap go over your head for a td on first play of game isn’t going to help things in playoffs. (Manning SB vs Seahawks) He had lots of drops and an INT off of a receiver not bringing it it. He managed to make the game respectable going into 4th. I’m not a fan of either him or Steelers, but that wasn’t all on him.

  20. No way Ben leaves $41 mill on the table. He looked old and weak-armed last night. Hope he retires because he has had a great HOF career.
    It will be interesting to read all the Steeler Haters comments today. But I say, I only wish that my team has had as much success for this long even if the Steelers flamed out last nite.

  21. he will milk thisfor all its worth. give interviews about all of his injuries and remnd everyone how tough he is. Favre retirement part two.

  22. Zero percent chance Ben voluntarily walks away from forty million dollars. I don’t see Tomlin cutting him, just like I don’t see Rooney firing Tomlin.

    Get ready for another year of mediocrity in Pittsburgh.

  23. Ben clearly looks done. He knows it, We all know it. He can only get bigger slower and weaker from here out. No one wants to go out like that against a team that you handled for 15 years but the Steelers shouldn’t give him a choice kinda like they did with Bruce Arians. I can see his decision being based off other potential first ballot QB’s. If Brees doesn’t retire Ben should so he can get all the shine come HOF time.

  24. Maybe he is done, maybe he’s not. Either way, he helped add 2 Lombardis to the trophy case, and will go down in Steelers history as one of the all time greats. Can’t thank him enough. Sure, he’s had his share of off-the-field issues in his younger days and made mistakes. Let’s all remember we ALL live in glass houses and have done things we’re not proud of and probably should be quite embarrassed about. Let the guy take his time and decide what’s best for himself and his family. Either way, thank you for the great memories, Ben!

  25. Retirement, or be traded to another team if he doesn’t take a pay cut.

  26. I’m relatively close to Ben in age, so watching him look old out there makes me feel old. I was in my early 20s when he was drafted and life was great. Now we’re mired in a pandemic, the political situation in this country is straight out of future dystopian movie, and Ben’s on the brink of the end. Depressing.

    Whether he stays or goes, I assume they’re still planning to acquire a potential heir within 1-3 years. I don’t see them trading to move up in the draft this year — cap situation and the fact that half the team are free agents aren’t favorable for it. They’re drafting at #24 overall, which isn’t a great spot for grabbing a top prospect QB.

    Barring a top-tier QB falling to #24, best case seems to be drafting BPA this year (plenty of positions needed — OL/TE/WR/DB/RB/etc), ride out next year with Ben or Mason, and hope to land a better draft spot in 2022 for getting a QB in the 1st round.

  27. Father Time catches up with all of us! I doubt he wants to go out with 4 INTs in his last game, especially losing to the rival Browns at home, but at the same time he has had an excellent career and has nothing to feel ashamed of. He’s clearly not in good health, has enough money to live comfortably for the remainder of his life, and has nothing left to prove. Just take your millions and live a long and healthy life, Big Ben. You’ve earned it.

  28. He is done. His arm was failing last 5 weeks. A good coach would have seen that and changed offensive game plan but Tomlin is probably the most overrated coach. They have done nothing again in playoffs

  29. Based off last nights performance I’m sure what’s next for Ben is that he liked to Turnover a new leaf.

  30. He has looked older all season even when the Steelers were going undefeated for 11 games – as they started to slide in the final 5 games he looked even older – not sure the decision will be Ben’s to make – 40 Million cap hit could mean rebuild time for the Steelers – a healthy D can keep them afloat if they can find a competent QB for the immediate future

  31. We should make a full court press for Watson, i agree. This team can win again next year but we have a short window with our D players.

  32. One game does not a star make, but Taylor Heinicke appears to have some promise. If the Steelers can improve that pitiful run game and the defense can stay healthy, Heinicke could at least be a short term answer to replace Ben.

    Surprised the Steelers did not use Dobbs a little, at least early in the game.

  33. straighcashhomey says:
    January 11, 2021 at 8:30 am
    He is done. His arm was failing last 5 weeks. A good coach would have seen that and changed offensive game plan but Tomlin is probably the most overrated coach. They have done nothing again in playoffs


    Change the offensive game plan to what? They already implemented a system based on a short and quick passing attack to preserve Ben’s arm and cater to his immobility, so there’s your solution. It wound up being incredibly predictable, especially with no run game to support it (which isn’t something they can flip a switch midseason and fix). They periodically used concepts that Matt Canada presumably brought, but those are largely gimmicks to change things up and keep defenses honest, not something to build an offense around.

    Tomlin’s not absolved of responsibility for this season or others, but the issues you’re talking about with Ben fall on Fichtner and Ben as much as anyone. Outside of the WRs maybe, the offense largely needs to be revamped. OL, RB, QB, TE. Also time for Fichtner to go.

  34. He was drafted with Eli and Philip. Eli is out and Philip is also on the brink of it. Rivers looks better, but still may retire too.

  35. I think a decent running game would have allowed Ben to continue to be very successful.

    He is not the Ben of old, but C’mon… 501 yards is 501 yards. He was throwing some very accurate passes out there.

    Just put it up too many times. Bud Grant once famously said “There are three things that can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them are bad.”

  36. Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.
    Know when To walk away, know when to run.

    42.5 mill cap hit? The Steelers will know when to walk away.

  37. Nobody wants to go out like this, but hey, Brady or Brees may be crying on the bench next week. It happens to lots of guys.

  38. What the Rooney’s really need to is fire Tomlin who can’t motivate his 3rd ranked defense to beat a browns team without their coach.

  39. I wasn’t devastated that we lost, but I felt so bad for Ben at the end of the game sitting alone on the bench. Yes he had a bad game and you can’t do that in the playoffs. Kudos to Kevin Stepanski. He had a great game plan, no gripe with officials.

    Love the Steelers but they are getting old. I think Ben stays one more year unless he makes the decision to retire. They actually should keep him as a QB coach. He has shown patience with his wide receivers and they responded well to him and is better at calling his own plays.

    Finchter is awful. Time to clean house at the head coach and coordinator level.

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