When the Steelers beat the Browns on the final Monday night of the 2021 season, the differences between Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethliberger and Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield couldn’t have been more stark. They apparently had one very important thing in common.
Neither was thrilled with his team.
Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was this question during a Wednesday chat: “Is there bad blood between the Steelers and Big Ben with how his career ended. Was he ready to retire or was it a Troy [Polamalu] type situation where he was forced into it?”
Said Dulac: “I would say it’s very very safe to assume that.”
That’s a strong statement. And it’s surprising. Some think that, a year ago, the Steelers were ready to move on. Some believe that the team specifically crafted an offer on a reduced deal with the goal of it being high enough to avoid insulting him but low enough to keep him from taking it. Then, he accepted what was a $5 million reduction in what he was due to make.
It was clear last year that Roethlisberger wasn’t the guy he once was. Mobility had allowed him to extend plays throughout his career. That mobility was virtually non-existent during the final season of his career.
To his credit, Roethlisberger learned how to color within the shrunken lines. However, it wasn’t good enough to justify another season.
The rest of the league knew it, too. His name never came up during the offseason quarterback carousel, which ultimately entailed an insufficient number of available veterans.
It’s up to the Steelers and Roethlisbeger to mend fences, or not. They’ve been through too much to not at least try to see eye to eye.