On Tuesday Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II met with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and advised the 18-year veteran that the team wants him back for the 2021 season, ending speculation that the two parties might not be on the same page.
“We have been in communication with Ben throughout the offseason, and we have been clear that we would like him back but we needed to do something with the contract,” advised Rooney via Steelers.com. “We’re getting to that point now where the time is right. We have a better idea of where the salary cap is going to be [a minimum of $180 million], which is an important component of the decision. It just felt like it was time to sit down with Ben and have a good discussion, make sure the lines of communication are open. We had a good, productive discussion, and I assured him we would like to have him back, and he assured me that he wants to come back and play. So we both left it that we know we have to try to get something worked out on the contract,” which needs to be restructured to reduce Big Ben’s $41.25 salary cap hit and facilitate his return.
Hopefully we’ll work something out before mid-March indicated Rooney, “but certainly if you want to say there’s a hard deadline, March 17 would be it,” a reference to the start of the 2021 league year, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on that day.
Art Rooney Talks Ben Roethlisberger’s Arm Strength
Art Rooney II later went on to express confidence in Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to lead the team to victories, if not a Super Bowl.
“We think Ben played at a high level last year,” said Rooney. “We won our division and set a franchise record for most consecutive wins to open a season, so there was a lot of good stuff. Ben was as disappointed as anybody the way it ended. That last game is just hard to swallow, and I think in part Ben wants to come back and leave on a high note. We’re still confident he has the ability to do that. His arm, I would say, is as strong or almost as strong as ever, so I think he’s certainly capable of getting the job done. Part of the concern is putting a [competitive] team around him, and we had a good discussion about that. We know there are still a lot of pieces to the puzzle that still have to fall into place this season, and we’re hard at work trying to make that happen.”
The Steelers Have No Quarterbacks Under Contract for 2022
Meanwhile, it’s expected that the Steelers will sign Roethlisberger to a contract extension that features voidable years, so the team can void the contract after the 2021 season but still spread out some of this year’s cap hit.
As it stands now, the Steelers have no money allocated to the quarterback position in 2022. Backup quarterback Mason Rudolph is entering the last year of the rookie contract he signed in 2018 and former Washington first-rounder Dwayne Haskins was inked to a one-year deal in January.
Last year’s practice squad/fourth-string quarterback Devlin Hodges signed a Reserve/Future contract with the Los Angeles Rams last month. Last year’s third-string quarterback, Josh Dobbs, is a pending unrestricted free agent.
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