The Pittsburgh Steelers have a plethora of issues relating to their cap space this offseason. Ben Roethlisberger’s contract brings the biggest consequences for Pittsburgh if he is on the roster. His cap hit, along with his age, make it a real possibility his career with the Steelers could be over. Until Roethlisberger and Steelers President Art Rooney II met Feb. 23, that is.
The two-time champion met with the team president to discuss a variety of things. Based on what Rooney said, it looks like the marriage between Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh could continue for at least one more year.
Steelers President Art Rooney meets Ben Roethlisberger
The elephant in the room Ben Roethlisberger’s contract situation, as the Steelers don’t have the financial flexibility to pay his $41.2 million cap hit and build a contending team around him. It looks like the two parties are on the same page.
“Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday, and we had a productive meeting. We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship. We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben’s contract situation,” Steelers Director of Communications Burt Lauten tweeted.
The statement by Rooney takes a different tone than general manager Kevin Colbert. According to a Feb. 17 tweet by ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, Colbert made vague comments about Roethlisberger’s future with the team. His words brought serious doubt into whether the Big Ben era in Pittsburgh was coming to an end.
Bringing Big Ben back means he will need to take a pay cut. The cap hit would be crippling to Pittsburgh’s finances.
The Steelers must rework Big Ben’s contract
Ben Roethlisberger’s contract is an obstacle preventing him from returning to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He brings a massive $41.25 million cap hit if he is on the roster under his current contract. They have to rework Big Ben’s contract if they hope to re-sign other key playmakers this offseason.
If the Steelers can restructure Roethlisberger’s contract, it’ll save them as much as $19 million toward the cap. March 19 would be the best date to do it by, as he receives a $15 million roster bonus if he is on the roster per Pro Football Talk. Roethlisberger said he doesn’t care about his paycheck this season, The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette tweeted.
The NFL cap will be around $180-181 million, according to Adam Schefter. The Steelers are currently about $30 million over the cap when using that figure. The team has saved some cap space because of Vance McDonald and Maurkice Pouncey retiring. However, they will still have to work some magic to get under the cap.
Ben Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh looks much better
Although they still have to work out his contract situation, Ben Roethlisberger’s future in Pittsburgh seems more likely than it has in recent weeks. The Steelers seem like they are open to having their quarterback back for another year based on Rooney’s statement. Fixing Big Ben’s contract is essential, but Pittsburgh has other players they need to worry about.
Juju Smith-Schuster, Bud Dupree, James Conner, and Alejandro Villanueva are the biggest players on the Steelers hitting the free-agent market. It will be hard for Pittsburgh to sign all of them based on the value they bring for their talent, the position they play, and team’s cap situation.
Roethlisberger will be 38 in March. He showed that he isn’t built to carry the load offensively last season. Their run game hasn’t been potent in the last few years. A strong rushing attack will take some pressure off of Roethlisberger. The Steelers will need to make sure he has ample weapons at his disposal. Improving the running game should be a huge priority for Pittsburgh regardless of Big Ben’s future.
Art Rooney had a productive meeting with Ben Roethlisberger, and it looks like both sides are willing to work out his contract. That is the only thing hindering the veteran’s return to the team. Finding an agreeable number is the next task, and because Big Ben doesn’t care about his pay, that should be easy. It’s no guarantee, but the Big Ben era could last for one more year.
All contract figures courtesy of Overthecap.com