Ben Roethlisberger’s New Deal Includes a Pay Cut: Report

Roethlisberger Pouncey DeCastro

Getty Images Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger attempts a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 21, 2020.

Early Thursday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they have signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract for the 2021 season. In the hours since, details have emerged about the specifics of the deal. Most notable, perhaps, is that Roethlisberger’s compensation for 2021 has been lowered from $19 million to $14 million, this according to ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, who also advises that the Steelers have picked up over $15 million in cap space this year.

Ben Roethlisberger’s Salary Has Been Reduced by Almost $3 Million

That reduction in compensation comes by way of both a smaller bonus and a smaller salary.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Roethlisberger is getting a $12.925 million signing bonus (instead of the $15 million roster bonus he was scheduled to receive). His salary has also been lowered from $4 million to $1,075,000.

As noted above, the new contract also includes four voidable years (through 2025) to help spread out the salary cap hit. In effect, then, it’s a one-year contract, and Roethlisberger—who turned 39 two days ago—will become a free agent after the 2021 season.

Ben Roethlisberger Will Extend Numerous Franchise Records in 2021

That said, Ben Roethlisberger will get another chance to lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl, which would be his fourth Super Bowl in 18 years. He will also get the opportunity to extend many franchise records, including most games played (233) and most starts (231), not to mention most passing yards (60,348) and touchdown passes (396).

He’s also in the mix to become the most-sacked quarterback of all-time. To date, Roethlisberger has absorbed 516 sacks, tied for third all-time with Hall of Famer John Elway and just behind Tom Brady, who has been sacked 521 times. For the moment, Brett Favre remains the NFL’s career leader with 525.

Pittsburgh’s Backup Quarterback Situation

Roethlisberger’s new deal probably isn’t welcome news from the perspective of backup Mason Rudolph, who will be entering the last year of the rookie contract he signed in 2018. It also means that former Washington first-rounder Dwayne Haskins will get less of an opportunity to showcase his skills over the course of the next year. However, Haskins will still be a restricted free agent when his one-year deal expires after the 2021 season.

Meanwhile, Big Ben’s contract extension gives Pittsburgh the opportunity to sign at least a few of its 19 unrestricted free agents—and perhaps pursue a few unrestricted free agents from other teams. Prior to the new deal Roethlisberger was set to count $41.25 million against the team’s 2021 salary cap.

Clearly, the Steelers still believe Roethlisberger has the physical skills to lead the team back to the playoffs. Late last month team president Art Rooney said he believes that Big Ben’s arm is “as strong, or almost as strong as ever.”

In 2020, his 17th season in the NFL, Roethlisberger came back from career-threatening elbow surgery to pass for 3,808 yards and 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft (No. 11 overall) out of Miami of Ohio.

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