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Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a miserable second half of a season in which he showed only a few flashes of the quarterback he once was. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it ended about as badly as it could, with a loss in the first round of the playoffs to a Cleveland Browns franchise they have generally dominated.
All of that and more are why Roethlisberger’s future as quarterback of the Steelers appears to be in doubt. Just ask Steelers president Art Rooney II.
“I don’t want to go too far down that road because we have a lot of discussions internally and with Ben,” Rooney said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN. “Salary cap and Ben’s contract is a big factor in where we go. That’s as much as I can say.”
Roethlisberger, 38, threw four interceptions in the 48-37 loss to the Browns, which isn’t exactly a good way to go out. He has said he will retire if he feels he can’t get the job done anymore.
“Roethlisberger is due a $4 million salary and a $15 million roster bonus on the third day of the 2021 league year,” noted Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk. “That doesn’t leave much relief via a pay cut, so an extension would likely be the simplest way for the Steelers to free up the cap room they’d need to keep the status quo at quarterback.”
That may be true, but Roethlisberger may have another solution. He told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic that his salary doesn’t have to be set in stone.
Either way, this is quite a conundrum involving the face of the franchise and, quite honestly, their greatest reason for hope. After all, Roethlisberger and the Steelers did start 11-0 this past season before the end-of-the-year meltdown, and they did so with virtually no running game.
After the season, the Steelers signed former first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, a QB who failed miserably in Washington. It was a peculiar move, given that Roethlisberger hasn’t made any sort of announcement and that Mason Rudolph has been deemed his successor.
All of it means just one thing for the Steelers: more uncertainty. That’s something the franchise hasn’t experienced in about two decades. Right now, there are a whole lot of unknowns and no clear-cut, easy answers. That doesn’t necessarily spell doom for the Steelers, but it sure makes things different than what they’re used to.