Ben Roethlisberger has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ primary starting quarterback since the 2004 season, when he went 13-0 in the games he started, and he has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL during that stretch. Among his career accomplishments is leading the Steelers to two Super Bowl titles. He’s getting up there in age — he turned 37 earlier this year — but that didn’t stop the Steelers from giving the veteran a two-year contract extension worth $68 million, which keeps him with the team through the 2021 season. Was that the right move for the Steelers? Let’s take a look.
Details of Roethlisberger’s extension
Ben Roethlisberger had $12 million due on the final year of his existing contract. Including the extension, he’ll earn a total of $80 million over the next three seasons. The $68 million extension reportedly includes a $37.5 million signing bonus and a $30 million injury guarantee.
This latest contract essentially guarantees that Roethlisberger will end up playing his entire career with the Steelers, which he said in a statement “has always been a goal” and that the team will get his “absolute best.” Roethlisberger’s contract makes him the sixth highest-paid quarterback in the league.
He is coming off an impressive 2018 season
Even though the Steelers missed the playoffs, Ben Roethlisberger had one of the best statistical seasons of his career in 2018. He threw for 5,129 yards, leading the league in that category for the first time in his career. His 34 touchdowns ranked fifth in the NFL. Both of those totals were career highs. He also received the AFC Offensive Player of the Week award twice in 2018.
Roethlisberger continues to ascend the ladder in career stats
Through 2018, Roethlisberger has thrown for 56,194 yards, which is sixth-most in league history, and his 363 passing touchdowns rank seventh on the all-time list. His 216 games played place him third in franchise history, one behind WR Hines Ward for second place and four shy of C Mike Webster for the team record. Barring injury, he will easily set a new record in 2019. Not only is he durable, but he also wins games; the Steelers have not had a losing season since Roethlisberger took over as the team’s starting quarterback.
When all is said and done, Ben Roethlisberger figures to have some of the best career stats of any quarterback ever.
What does 2019 hold for him?
He keeps posting astounding numbers, but Ben Roethlisberger isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 39 by the time his contract expires, and regression should be expected sooner rather than later because Father Time is undefeated. Plus, he will be without star WR Antonio Brown, as well as RB Le’Veon Bell, who Roethlisberger also didn’t have last season.
His interception totals have been going up in recent years, and his 16 picks in 2018 tied his career high. His yardage and touchdown totals from last season may have been anomalies based on recent seasons, with his passing yards nearly 900 yards more than his total in 2017.
Did the Steelers make the right move to extend Ben Roethlisberger?
Finding and grooming franchise quarterbacks is one of the hardest things to do in the NFL. Untested youngsters Joshua Dobbs and Mason Rudolph are next up on the depth chart, so Pittsburgh seemingly doesn’t have a succession plan ready to go.
Still, the Steelers may have been wise to hold off on giving Ben Roethlisberger the two-year extension. They could have waited to see how he did early in the season before committing to locking him up through his age-39 season.
He has played a lot of games, especially considering the Steelers have made the postseason more often than not in his career, so he has a lot of wear-and-tear on his body. And without Brown catching passes from him, Roethlisberger’s play may not be as good as it has been in past seasons.
Regardless, he is unlikely to put up the same type of stats he did last season, which was significantly better than what he has done in the recent past. Overall, the Steelers may regret giving Roethlisberger such a high-priced extension in his late 30s, especially because the competition in the division, and the AFC in general, is heating up with teams like the Ravens and Browns improving.