Ben Roethlisberger met with Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II on Tuesday, presumably to discuss his future with the team.
Following a report that the meeting "went well," Roethlisberger's agent Ryan Tollner told NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala that the Steelers "want Ben back" next season and that the two sides are working on adjusting the QB's contract.
"They want Ben back and will contact me soon to address his [salary] cap situation," Tollner said, per Kinkhabwala. "As we've shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible."
On Wednesday morning Rooney confirmed that the Steelers want Roethlisberger back next season, and that figuring out his 2021 contract is what comes next.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) February 24, 2021
Roethlisberger carries massive salary-cap hit in 2021
Roethlisberger has stated his willingness to restructure his contract. He's approaching the second season of a two-year, $68 million extension that carries a $41.2 million salary-cap hit next season. It's a prohibitive number considering the likelihood of a reduced cap tied to COVID-19 revenue losses.
Roethlisberger will be 39 next season. He put up solid numbers in 2020, throwing for 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while averaging 253.5 yards per game. But he and the Steelers' offense faltered down the stretch after going 11-0. Pittsburgh finished the regular season 12-4 and suffered an ugly loss to the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the playoffs. Roethlisberger threw four interceptions in that defeat.
Can Roethlisberger still be an effective QB?
Roethlisberger has spent his entire 17-year career and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers. Both sides appear eager to ensure that he retires with the Steelers. Roethlisberger told The Athletic's Ed Bouchette in January, "I don't care bout my pay at all this year."
Nothing's a done deal, of course, until they agree on a new contract.
Assuming the two sides work it out, 2021 won't simply be a reunion tour in Pittsburgh. The Steelers fielded the NFL's third-ranked defense in 2020 and will have their eyes focused on competing for a Super Bowl. It seems they're satisfied that Roethlisberger remains the best option to run their offense — for the right price, of course.
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