On Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, a $19 million question lingers

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The Steelers want Ben. Ben wants the Steelers. The Steelers need to revise Ben’s contract. Ben is willing to do it.

But still it hasn’t been done.

Although Steelers president Art Rooney II recently told Steelers.com that the deadline for getting a revised deal in place is March 17, Rooney hasn’t said publicly whether the Steelers intend to pay their long-time starting quarterback the $19 million he’s due to earn in 2021 via a restructuring that reduces his cap number, or whether the Steelers are trying to get Ben Roethlisberger to make good on his recent “I don’t care about my pay at all this year” declaration.

Roethlisberger’s camp also isn’t saying whether the Steelers are trying to get Ben to take less. But why wouldn’t the Steelers at least try?

Ben counts $22.25 million against the cap whether he’s on the team or not in 2021. Anything he earns adds to that amount. The $19 million he’s currently due to earn puts him at a cap number of $41.25 million. A restructuring that would be sparked by reducing his compensation to the minimum base salary of $1.075 million with $18.925 million converted to a signing bonus would put the 2021 cap number in the upper 20s, with the final number depending on the new years added to the deal for purposes of spreading out the signing bonus allocation.

Cutting his pay could drive it even lower than that, obviously. Until the Steelers and Roethlisberger do a new deal that entails Roethlisberger making $19 million this year, the possibility looms that the Steelers will try to get him to take less.

Apart from playing on his obvious desire to have enough cap space to allow the team to put competent teammates around him, there’s a more pragmatic question to ask: Would another team pay him $19 million this year, if he were a free agent?

Regardless of whether Ben would play for someone else, the question is whether someone else would offer him $19 million to play for that team. If the answer is no, then maybe it’s fair for the Steelers to want him to take less.

Again, this entire issue gets put to bed with a new contract that preserves his 2021 compensation package. Until then, it’s fair to wonder whether something more is happening between the Steelers and a quarterback who turns 39 in three days.

17 responses to “On Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, a $19 million question lingers

  1. They want him to exit gracefully. They’re saying the right things publicly but it’s obvious what’s going on. They don’t mind him being around but they don’t want him on the field. Same as Brees in NO.

  2. This, and all the other legion of examples, is why Belichick knows its best in the long run to let a guy go a year too early than too late. And before y’all bring up Brady, he could’ve stayed on a year-to-year, Belichick just wasn’t offering a multi-year as he thought Brady prob only had one great year left (and may have been aware of Brady’s ageing knees). Instead of at best squeaking to an early playoff exit, Pats emptied their cap. Steelers shoulda taken the same approach too, back in Apirl 2019.

  3. I would add to that Nino – they don’t want him around at full price. It’s not like they’re pushing him out to make room for the talented backup who deserves to start here. My guess is they want him back for another year, but need him to take a serious pay cut to make it work. They don’t just want a cap-management salary to bonus conversion that pushes the pain into future years, they want a discount!

    Exactly what I would do.

  4. Ben has never posted a workout video like Alex Smith and Drew Brees have. Alex Smith is shredded too. Ben is so fat he wouldn’t jump on that fumble or even kick it through the end zone IN A PLAYOFF GAME.

  5. @TrunOrth: it’s my impression they don’t want him starting. Mentoring fine and a lower salary.

  6. I’ll never understand why teams insist on giving some players these bloated contracts that they know will eventually handicap them down the road. Then the teams come slithering back to the player to convince him to re-work his contract so that it’s more “team-friendly”. That always results in the player eventually losing money. because either the player is going to take a pay cut, or the contract will be reworked so that the large payoff is at the end of the deal. The teams almost alway get rid of that player by the end of their deals to avoid paying that money. The teams that can creatively put most of a players money into a “bonus” are the ones that usually avoid “cap hell”.

  7. Steelers aren’t going anywhere in 2021 either with or without Ben. They should move on from him and clear their cap situation so they get a start on finding their new QB (Mac Jones?) and save some money for extensions for TJ Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

  8. In the words of the sadistic killer Anton Shugur in the movie “No Country for Old Men”: “you know this isn’t going to end well”.

  9. He threw 33 tds to 10 ints, 6 qbs in the nfl threw more tds in 2020 and 3 of them threw more ints, so pay the man whatever he wants!

  10. This, and all the other legion of examples, is why Belichick knows its best in the long run to let a guy go a year too early than too late. And before y’all bring up Brady, he could’ve stayed on a year-to-year, Belichick just wasn’t offering a multi-year as he thought Brady prob only had one great year left (and may have been aware of Brady’s ageing knees). Instead of at best squeaking to an early playoff exit, Pats emptied their cap. Steelers shoulda taken the same approach too, back in Apirl 2019.

    Steeler fans are tired of mouthy Pats fans butting into every thread and educating us on what the Pats would do……dude we are sick of that crap so just stop. How were the Pats this year with Tammy…..p….u

  11. Yeah good to see these 20 yr expert Pats fans in here saying ” Belichick this, and Belichick blah blah … “. You should pray the Pats don’t see a time period of, like, 20 yrs before the double-cheaters B&B came on the scene in the late 90’s. That of the likes of Steve Grogan & Tony Eason – clowns who sucked or got squashed in the Super Bowl like Eason did.

  12. just sign Kap, quite sure that would play well in Pittsburgh yes? and Florio would be on cloud nine lol

  13. all you need to know about how much “big” Ben has left in the tank is watch the replay of the Browns playoff game when the first play snap went over his head. not since cam in the SB have I seen a QB give up on a play like that. he’s fat. and old. and finished.

  14. The Steelers aren’t going anywhere because they are staying on top of the AFC North. 6 Superbowls and a G.M. that is rock solid. A culture and a standard takes them to the win column over and over.

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