It wasn’t a certainty Ben Roethlisberger would return to the Steelers in 2021. But it’s not a certainty this will be his final season in Pittsburgh.
Roethlisberger, 39, is entering his 18th season and his contract automatically voids at the end of the 2021 season.
Steleers team owner and president Art Rooney II, though, is keeping the door open for his starting quarterback to return in 2022.
“It’s not written in stone that this is his last year,” Rooney said Tuesday, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.
It is obvious, though, that Roethlisberger doesn’t have a lot of time left in the league. The six-time Pro Bowler said in June that he approaches every season “like it’s my last.”
At some point in the near future, the Steelers will have a new starting quarterback.
“We’re aware this could be Ben’s last year,” Rooney said. “We hope it’s a great one. That’s as far as we can go with it right now. Obviously, if this is his last year, then next year we’ll be making decisions on a quarterback, and we’ll address it as the time comes up.”
Roethlisberger signed a new contract in the spring, taking a $5 million pay cut and lowering his salary-cap number by more than $15 million.
“It was a very unselfish move on his part,” General Manager Kevin Colbert said, via Pryor. “It made him available for 2021. Beyond that, none of us know. We’ll just work with 2021 and see where it goes from there.”
Roethlisberger completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. He is almost two years removed from elbow surgery, and said two weeks ago he feels “fresher” than he did this time a year ago.