Former Steelers CB Has Sage Advice for Ben Roethlisberger

Ike Taylor

Rob Carr/Getty Images Cornerback Ike Taylor of the Pittsburgh Steelers wipes his head on the sidelines during a game against Baltimore Ravens on September 11, 2014.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor won two Super Bowl rings with Ben Roethlisberger, but he was unequivocal when asked about whether the 17-year veteran should retire.

“A hundred percent,” he said, in an interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh.

Taylor isn’t necessarily worried about Roethlisberger’s arm, he’s more concerned about Big Ben’s legs.

“It’s the mobility part, and if you’re looking at the AFC North, the three young quarterbacks—they’re young, they’re mobile, and they’ve got playoff experience, and you don’t want to set your organization behind three years.”

In other words, Taylor believes the Steelers won’t be competitive with a 39-year-old Roethlisberger going against the upstart franchise quarterbacks in Pittsburgh’s division—namely, Joe Burrow of the Bengals, 24, Lamar Jackson of the Ravens, 24, and Baker Mayfield of the Browns, 25.

“If they didn’t have a Lamar Jackson, if they didn’t have a Baker Mayfield, if they didn’t have a Joe Burrow, then I would say ‘Bring the man back.’ But the fact that you got at least two young stars … with experience in the playoffs.

“Seven [Roethlisberger] has done enough,” added Taylor. “Seven has had a heck of a run. For me it’s the mobility part …” uttering that buzzword a second time for emphasis.

‘You Know the Steelers, They’re Loyal’

Yet Ike Taylor doesn’t believe that Ben Roethlisberger will retire, noting that he has already indicated he’d like to come back and fulfill the last year of his contract.

Nor does he believe the Steelers will force him to retire.

“They’re gonna let Ben rock out till he wants to rock out. You know the Steelers, they’re loyal.”

Taylor’s sentiment fits with a recent report from Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who wrote that “the Steelers don’t want to be the bad guy…. They do not want to be the one to end Roethlisberger’s career and boot their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback out the door.”

A Potential Off-Ramp for Ben Roethlisberger

On the other hand, it’s still possible that Roethlisberger will choose to walk away if he believes that more than a few key veterans won’t be back in 2021. That includes center Maurkice Pouncey, who has been thinking about retirement and is reportedly close to making a decision about his future.

In fact, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and team president Art Rooney II plan to meet with Roethlisberger shortly after the Super Bowl to discuss ‘roster plans’ for 2021.

That meeting provides Roethlisberger with a potential off-ramp—the opportunity to say he’s not ready to come back if select veterans plan to retire, or if the team figures to suffer excessive losses in free agency.

Either way, Roethlisberger and the Steelers have to decide whether he’s coming back before mid-March. That’s when Roethlisberger is scheduled to receive a $15 million roster bonus. Steelers team president Art Rooney II has already indicated that the team can’t have Big Ben back ‘under [his] current contract.’ A new deal, most likely one that includes voidable years, would need to be in place before that time.

If Roethlisberger decides to retire, he will still count $22.25 million against Pittsburgh’s salary cap in 2021.

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