As the Dak Prescott saga turns, NFL analysts continue to speculate on the Dallas Cowboys’ contingency plans at quarterback if a long-term deal is not reached this offseason. One veteran quarterback that could become available this offseason is Ben Roethlisberger, and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio labeled the Cowboys as a potential landing spot if Prescott does not sign an extension.
“The only potentially viable options, now that the Colts are spoken for, would seem to be these: Jets, Patriots, Texans (if they trade Deshaun Watson), Broncos, Raiders (if they trade Derek Carr, which seems highly unlikely), Cowboys (if they let Dak Prescott walk), Washington, Bears, Panthers, Saints, 49ers, and Seahawks (if they trade Russell Wilson, which seems highly unlikely),” Florio explained. “That’s the broadest universe of arguably realistic possibilities. Even then, it’s hard to imagine a land rush emerging for a quarterback who will be 39 on March 2.”
Florio suggested Roethlisberger is more likely to be released than traded as few teams are willing to part with assets and take on the quarterback’s current contract. Roethlisberger only has a base salary of $4 million for next season but it comes with a $41 million cap hit, per Spotrac. The Steelers have a potential out this offseason by releasing Roethlisberger, but it would still cost the team more than $22 million in dead money.
Steelers on Big Ben’s Future: ‘We Have to Look at This Current Situation’
Speculation has grown about Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh after Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert’s recent comments indicating the team is non-committal about their quarterback’s status for 2021. Colbert indicated there is a lot for the Steelers to figure out with their salary cap configuration adding, “we have to look at this current situation” when it comes to Roethlisberger’s future.
“As we sit here today, Ben is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert explained, per Steelers.com. “He met with Art Rooney II, he met with Coach Tomlin, he met with me shortly after the season ended. He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play, and we told him quite frankly we have to look at this current situation. Art addressed that with Ben’s current cap number, some adjustment will have to be made. And we aren’t negotiating as we sit here (today) to answer this question. Ben Roethlisberger is on the team. Ben Roethlisberger did a lot of really good things last year, and we anticipate he could still do some good things moving forward.”
Colbert confirmed that Roethlisberger would not be returning to the Steelers on his current contract. Pittsburgh will either try to restructure his deal to keep Roethlisberger for 2021 or move in a different direction at quarterback next season.
Could the Cowboys Win the NFC East with Roethlisberger at QB?
The Cowboys signing Roethlisberger may seem outlandish, but the longer Prescott’s status remains unclear the more we are going to hear about potential solutions beyond their franchise quarterback. The reality is the Cowboys are playing in one of the worst divisions in the NFL. Roethlisberger threw for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing more than 65 percent of his passes.
The quarterback still has enough in the tank to give the Cowboys a chance at winning the NFC East. If he is released, Roethlisberger would also likely come with a cheaper price tag than Prescott allowing the Cowboys to address more of the glaring holes on their roster. Roethlisberger could be a potential option as a bridge player for a season, while the Cowboys find their future quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft or beyond.
The bigger question is the long-term ramifications of letting Prescott walk for a more affordable option. Roethlisberger does not make the team a Super Bowl contender and gives the Cowboys less of a chance at winning a title in the future with Prescott no longer on the roster.
Signing Roethlisberger is within the realm of possible options for the Cowboys if they decide to part ways with Prescott. Yet, none of these options are particularly appealing and do not move the Cowboys closer to a Super Bowl. Ultimately, the Cowboys and Prescott are going to have to reach a compromise on a long-term deal for the betterment of both the franchise and quarterback.