Are the Steelers still willing/able to pay Ben Roethlisberger $19 million this year?


It’s one thing for the Steelers to want to bring quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back for another year. It’s quite another for the Steelers to want to pay him the full $19 million he’s due to make in 2021.

It’s currently unclear whether the Steelers will try to get Roethlisberger to take less money. If it’s simply a matter of moving money around, it’s an easy proposition: Reduce his total compensation from $19 million to the veteran minimum of $1.075 million and turn the rest into a signing bonus to be spread over multiple years. As explained last month, a new four-year deal with three dummy years and a $17.925 million bonus would drop Roethlisberger’s 2021 cap number from $41.25 million to $26.73 million.

That’s an easy approach, one that gives Roethlisberger every penny he’s due to make and that minimizes his cap burden. It’s not something that should require meetings and conferences and anything other than an email or two between team and agent.

Thus, it’s fair to wonder whether the Steelers want to reduce Roethlisberger’s compensation for 2021 below the $19 million he’s due to earn. Although Roethlisberger has said that he doesn’t care about his pay, he surely does. (He should.) So how less is he willing to take before drawing a line in the sand?

Another possibility would be to convert some of his 2021 pay into a so-called “not likely to be earned” incentive, allowing the cap charge to be pushed to 2021 — if Roethlisberger meets the trigger(s) for the payment. That could be a middle ground that gives Roethlisberger a way to make the full $19 million if he performs at a sufficiently high level.

Regardless of how it plays out, if it were easy to figure out a new contract for Roethlisberger, it already would be done. Until it is done, it’s fair to wonder whether an impasse eventually will be reached.

However it plays out, the clock is ticking. Roethlisberger is due to earn a $15 million roster bonus on March 19. Whatever team and player do, they need to do it before March 19.

Actually, they need to do it before 4:01 p.m. ET on March 17. That’s when the Steelers will be required to be under the 2021 cap (whatever it is), and when Roethlisberger under his current deal will count for $41.25 million.

25 responses to “Are the Steelers still willing/able to pay Ben Roethlisberger $19 million this year?

  1. Rumor is they are taking his 19 million and adding dummy years more kicking the can down the road

  2. There’s a lot of bad QB play out there. Being a NE fan, I’m not a big fan of Ben. However, give the guy a good running game (what used to be a Steeler tradition) and he can still light it up.

  3. He’s 39. He had a great year last year. Sign him for 2 years. Get him some more offensive weapons (another receiver), another TE and RB.

  4. Ben has declined but they have no one else.
    What alternative do they have?
    It’s not like free agent QBs are dirt cheap unless they are awful.
    Cam Newton anyone?
    maybe a failed starter who is now back up material?

  5. No guessing they are too poor to afford it. Maybe Tom Brady can give up some PPP for him.

  6. Don’t do it. I’m a Steelers fan, but at some point you have to know when to turn the page. I would rather take the cap hit now and have space available to resign Watt and Minkah.

  7. Trivia…

    What team is:

    1) top 5 in cap space
    2) in need of a veteran qb to play along a top 10 defense
    3) coached by the greatest of all time that veterans want to play for

    If you guessed the Patriots you are correct!

  8. Steelers peaked too early last year. Bringing back Big Ben and hoping for his best games to happen in the playoffs is a waste of the best defense in football. This division runs through Cleveland now.

  9. The Steelers would be crazy to bring him back. He’s never been good enough to carry a team, and if last year’s squad wasn’t good enough to get him there, they won’t be good enough to get to the promised land with the 39-year-old and last year’s roster depleted by free agency.

    They should take their lumps, get the cap situation in order and start figuring out the next quarterback this year, and then plan to get back into the mix next year.

  10. He needs to be like Brees and do whatever it takes to lower the cap as much as possible. He’s made over $200mill in his career. If he wants even a tiny chance to win a Ring, he will do it. If not, he’s just plain greedy.

  11. Of course they are willing, who else do they have. I am sure they will be looking hard at the draft for a possible replacement.

  12. If he truly means what he says about the money, restructure your contract for league minimum and the rest in a super bowl or bust incentive.
    That would be refreshing to see from a player in the NFL that understands the salary cap and how other players are needed in order to compete.

  13. Big Ben is great. That said, the Steelers need to rip this band-aid off now. Bringing him back to an offense that will have some gaping holes (Pouncey, Schuster), is not a smart move for the future of the team. It only drags out the salary cap hell they are in. Time to start planning for a new Steelers team and let Ben retire as one of the greats.

  14. That’s a LOT of money for a 39 year old QB no matter WHAT he’s done in the past. I’m a Steelers fan but gotta be real about this one!!

  15. The rest of the AFCN hopes that they find a way to pay him and that he keeps playing on for years.

  16. Big Ben will always be a legend in Pittsburgh but it is time to move on. He is no longer the player he used to be. The Steelers have the 4th best QB in their division and kicking the can down the road with an extension will just take longer before they can rule the AFC north again.

  17. Ben has declined, but the real issue is the lack of run game/decline of the o-line. These are the years that ben should be leaning into the run game, yet he has to pass every down and carry the team on his shoulders. Not a recipie for success. RB and o-line need to be the absolute draft/free agency focus for the steelers.

  18. As some others have pointed out, the Steelers lack of a running game, and poor OL play, are a major part of the Steelers offensive woes. It’s a tough choice. It’s sad to say, but letting Ben walk speeds up the process of maybe getting another franchise QB. Based on what we’ve seen of MR so far, I don’t think he’s the one, and unless Haskins does a 180, he isn’t either. IMO

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