Last September—in the wake of a career-threatening injury to his throwing elbow—Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was given a choice: Have elbow surgery or retire. Roethlisberger chose surgery, through there was no guarantee the repair would allow him to throw as well as he used to.
Fast forward almost a year and it’s clear that Big Ben’s arm is looking good, perhaps better than it has in many years. After one particular training camp practice, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly said it was the best he’s ever seen Ben throw the ball in practice.
It doesn’t necessarily follow that Roethlisberger will still be able to play like a franchise QB, though he is the favorite to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Yet if he does, thoughts will turn to extending his contract, so he can play beyond 2021.
“Obviously after the season we’ll evaluate his contract situation along with other contract decisions we have to make,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic on Thursday. “But if Ben feels like playing longer and it looks like he’s capable of doing it, certainly that would be a great scenario.”
Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh’s Salary Cap
It would be a “great scenario,” not only because the Steelers would love to have Big Ben’s talents for as long as possible, but because a new contract could help reduce Roethlisberger’s salary cap hit in 2021, which currently stands at $41.25 million, according to OverTheCap.com.
The Steelers could reduce that figure by converting most of his salary and roster bonus for 2021 into a signing bonus, which could be pro-rated over the life of the agreement.
But first the Steelers need to see how Roethlisberger’s arm—and body—hold up over the course of another NFL season.
“We’re excited what we see from Ben so far in this training camp,” Rooney said. “We’re looking forward to what he can do this season. Certainly, his arm strength looks to be as good as it’s ever been. That’s a good sign.”
Ben Roethlisberger’s Longevity
Roethlisberger is now entering his 17th season in the NFL, all with the Steelers, who made him their first-round draft choice in 2004. Three “franchise quarterbacks” were selected in the first round that year. Eli Manning, who played his entire career with the New York Giants, retired during the offseason. Former Chargers QB Philip Rivers is now with a new team, the Indianapolis Colts.
Roethlisberger has a career record of 144-71-1. He has completed 4,651 of 7,230 pass attempts for 56,545 yards with 363 touchdowns against only 191 interceptions.
Either Roethlisberger or Tampa Bay Bucs QB Tom Brady will likely finish the 2020 season as the most sacked QB in NFL history. At the moment, Brett Favre is the most sacked QB in history, having absorbed 525 sacks. Denver Broncos legend John Elway is second on the list with 512 sacks. Roethlisberger has been sacked 503 times and Brady 500 times.
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