Several weeks back it was reported that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was planning to meet with Mike Tomlin and team ownership during the week after the Super Bowl to discuss ‘roster plans.’ According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that meeting has yet to take place—and offered no indication of when it might occur.
But it sounds as if Maurkice Pouncey’s decision to retire might play a role in Roethlisberger’s thinking in terms of whether or not he wants to continue playing.
In an interview with the Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger indicated that Pouncey texted teammates on Thursday night to advise them of his final decision. It’s an announcement that Pouncey was ‘close’ to making as far back as three weeks ago, one that was hinted at back in January when Pouncey and Roethlisberger were seen getting emotional on the bench immediately following the postseason loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Ben Roethlisberger: Maurkice Pouncey Retirement is ‘Hard for Me’
“I’m still processing him retiring,” Roethlisberger said during the aforementioned interview. “That’s hard for me.”
And even if “he didn’t feel right trying to talk [Pouncey] out of it,” Roethlisberger knows things won’t be the same if he comes back for one more NFL season.
“There’s something about Pounce and that relationship … it’s hard,” Roethlisberger said. “The competitiveness, the toughness, the things he went through people will never know about—all the dings, the injuries. It’s truly spectacular that guy lasted as long as he did.
“I hate to say he’s the greatest teammate and competitor I’ve ever been around,” added Roethlisberger, “but at the end of the day that’s what it is. He’s the greatest teammate and competitor I’ve been around, and that’s no slight to anybody else.”
Roethlisberger’s Playing Status Must Be Determined By Mid-March
As for the expected meeting between Roethlisberger and Steelers brass, it’s perhaps not a good sign for Roethlisberger that the meeting is slow to happen.
A week ago, Steelers insider Ed Bouchette said, “I don’t know that they [the Steelers] are fully embracing [Roethlisberger’s] return.” Indeed team president Art Rooney II has already gone on record to say that the team “can’t have [Roethlisberger] back” under his current contract, and that there would need to be “more conversations internally” before a final decision is made.
Never mind that Big Ben has already indicated that he’d be happy to restructure his contract to help facilitate his return.
In effect, the deadline for a decision on Ben Roethlisberger’s future comes on March 17th, which marks the start of the new league year. That’s when his $41.2 million cap charge becomes official. Then, on the third day of the new league year, he has a $15 million roster bonus that comes due, one that the team won’t be paying, either because Roethlisberger has already retired, been released, or signed a new (restructured) contract agreement.
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