Ben Roethlisberger is confident he will return to the Pittsburgh Steelers after the 2021 season and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team in return for his salary, which expires in 2021. Rooney said Thursday, that the Steelers left the door open for a return if his contract was adjusted.
Rooney explained that Big Ben was informed beforehand that the Steelers can’t have him under the current contract. Roethlisberger’s $41.2 million cap for next season is untenable because the salary cap has fallen due to the revenue decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the NFL and NFLPA appear to have agreed to increase the cap by $1.5 million for the 2018 season.
Roethlisberger, 38, said after the wild-card loss to the Cleveland Browns that he would talk to his family before making a concrete decision on a 2021 return, but he hopes the Steelers will get him back if he is selected. The Steelers fell short of Super Bowl LV after starting the season as one of the favorites.
Rooney and the team will give him the chance to forge his own career, but it is more likely that an extension or restructuring will push up the cost until the 2022 season. To give Roethlisberger at least one more season on his own terms, the Steelers could ask the quarterback to accept a pay cut in the final year of his contract. The Steelers would then have to pay what they have left after salary cuts and restructuring.
As it stands, the Steelers have three quarterbacks on the roster for the 2021 season: Ben Roethlisberger, Mason Rudolph, and the newly signed Dwayne Haskins. The decision on Rothlisberger’s future will be made with the team’s best interest in mind.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s contract runs until at least 2021, with an option for the 2022 season, and after evaluating the head coach himself, Rooney still believes Tomlin will lead the team into the future. While Rooney said the two have had many conversations about Tomlin’s future, nothing is official yet.