Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is indeed the team’s best-paid player, set to count $23.75 million against the cap this year and $41.25 million in 2021. But if you believe Brad Gagnon of Bleacher Report, Roethlisberger is also Pittsburgh’s ‘most overpaid’ player.
Gagnon’s analysis is part of a new article that aims to identify every NFL team’s most overpaid player entering the 2020 season. His segment on Roethlisberger is less than 150 words in length, but in that time he manages to take upwards of a half-dozen potshots at Big Ben, claiming that “the Steelers are stuck to Roethlisberger for the next two seasons”—as if that’s a bad thing.
‘Big Ben looks to be toast’???
Gagnon also claims that “Roethlisberger is 38 but appears to be going on 49,” but he cherry-picks numbers to back up that statement, advising that Big Ben was the second lowest rated passer in 2019 and led the NFL in interceptions in 2018.
Technically, Roethlisberger was the third-lowest rated passer last year, but he played less than six quarters—all of that with an already-pained elbow that would soon require major reconstructive surgery. And he did lead the NFL in interceptions in 2018, with 16, but he also led the league in attempts (675), completions (452), and passing yards (5,129). Plus he threw 34 touchdown passes—a more than 2 to 1 ratio against interceptions.
So I’m not sure it’s fair to say that “Big Ben looks to be toast,” or that “his salary remains an albatross for a team that has no other players making even half his yearly average,” as Gagnon alleges.
Sure, if Roethlisberger can’t return to form in 2020, his salary cap charge will be an issue next year, but so far all indications are that Big Ben’s recovery is proceeding swimmingly. Not only is there video evidence that shows Roethlisberger throwing passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner and Ryan Switzer, head coach Mike Tomlin likes what he has heard in terms of updates on Roethlisberger’s progress.
Meanwhile, more than a few NFL analysts have gone on record to predict big things for Big Ben in 2020, including this one, who expects a ‘huge season.’ It’s also worth noting that Roethlisberger remains the favorite for AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year, even in the wake of Cam Newton signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots.
Never mind that Roethisberger is on the precipice of moving into the top 5 on the NFL’s career wins list, poised to move ahead of both Dan Marino and John Elway sometime this season. On the other hand, he’s also in a race with Tom Brady to see who will be first to break Brett Favre’s record for most times sacked in NFL history.
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The Rest of the AFC North
In case you’re wondering about the other AFC North players that Gagnon regards as ‘most overpaid,’ those would be: defensive end Calais Campbell (Baltimore Ravens), cornerback Trae Wayne (Cincinnati Bengals), and EDGE Olivier Vernon (Cleveland Browns).