The Pittsburgh Steelers will once again have a busy offseason. With a mass of free agents set to hit the market, the Steelers will need to consider who to make offers to, who they will target in the draft, and what the future of this team will look like with regards to current players. One of the biggest question marks the Steelers face is the contract extension of Ben Roethlisberger.
Big Ben has two seasons left on his original eight year $102 million contract. The Steelers signed him to this big deal when he had two years left on his original contract with the Steelers as a rookie. Seems fitting that another deal be drawn up right about this time.
At least it makes sense to me.
Roethlisberger faced more than just pursuing defenders in 2013. Trade rumors and disgruntled fans, unhappy with the output from his Todd Haley led offense, served as extra obstacles. Big Ben fought through a 2-6 start to the season, and led the team to a 6-2 finish that put them one missed Ryan Succop field goal from the playoffs. He is without a doubt the large reason why the Steelers went that 6-2 stretch and could have just as easily been named Team MVP by his teammates over Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger put up some of his best numbers of his career and broke records along the way. Roethlisberger has been the face of this franchise for the last 8 years and will continue to be until the Steelers find the next generation of Steelers quarterback. The trade rumors have been shut down – supposedly. How much weight did they even hold coming from the spotty Ian Rapoport?
So why hasn’t Ben signed on the dotted line yet? Well really, why hasn’t the Steelers brass offer a new contract to #7 that would retire him as a Steeler?
I guess we can believe Art Rooney II after his unmoving and uninspirational state of the union to reporters last Wednesday. Rooney said several things that would make us have hope that they will ultimately sign Roethlisberger to an extension.
We’ve got to have Ben retire as a Steeler. There’s no doubt about that.
…When both sides are able to come together on an extension. I don’t know when that will be, but there’s no doubt we look at Ben as somebody who’s going to be here for the long term and hopefully five or more years.
So the desire is there. But is there a commitment? I would have liked to have heard things like, ‘It’s imperative that we re-sign the leader of this football team,’ or ‘We already have a plan in place on keeping Ben on this team until he retires.’ But we heard no such things last week. I believe that if Ben Roethlisberger was truly seen as being an integral part to the success of this football team, then the Rooney’s would have a plan in place. Maybe they do and are waiting for a few more things to happen before they begin negotiations. If they don’t sign Roethlisberger by camp in 2014, he won’t have a contract until 2015 – the spring leading into his last season. If the talk is true that Ben is getting more and more comfortable with Haley, and if Haley allows Big Ben to run the no huddle a large percentage of the time, the Big Ben will have some pretty stellar numbers put up in 2014. That will make it all the more difficult for the Steelers to affordably sign Ben. I believe Ben when he says he wants to retire a Steeler, but I am cynical. I don’t believe the organization has given him the respect he deserves to willfully accept a hometown discount that you can be sure the Steelers are praying he takes. There will come a point that Ben will become too expensive, and that should happen after 2014. After the Rodgers, Flacco, and Romo signings recently Ben will already come at a hefty price.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but it would be lovely to hear a little bit more from Looney Rooney in the ‘have faith, I’ve got this one on Roethlisberger, guys.’ But for now, I’m a little on pins and needles. There’s still a chance that the brass botch this and Big Ben is gone after his contract ends after the 2015 season. At only age 31 (soon to be 32), he’s got at least five more good seasons in him – including the next two under contract. A three year deal is very plausible and should button up Roethlisberger’s career as the all time great Steeler quarterback.
But, when will the ink hit the paper?