Steelers sign Ben Roethlisberger to new contract for 2021

Steelers sign Ben Roethlisberger to new contract for 2021

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a new contract for 2021, the team announced Thursday.

By taking a $5 million reduction in pay, minimum salary and spreading out the rest over voidable years, Roethlisberger’s new deal with the Steelers shaves off more than $15 million from their salary cap in 2021, a source confirmed to The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette. Steelers owner Art Rooney II previously said the team wanted Roethlisberger back, but his return would be contingent on the two sides agreeing to work out a contract alteration. Roethlisberger’s contract was set to be a $41 million cap hit for 2021 (including $19 million in bonuses).

After missing most of the 2019 season because of an elbow injury, Roethlisberger returned to throw for 3,803 yards, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games in 2020. The Steelers began the season 11-0 before losing four of their last five to end the regular season.

The 39-year-old has played his entire career for Pittsburgh after the Steelers selected him in the first round in the 2004 NFL Draft out of Miami (Ohio). He led Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl victories (2005 and 2008 seasons) and holds most of the team’s quarterback records.

How important was this for Pittsburgh?

Sean Gentille, Steelers senior writer: In a macro sense, it’s important enough. Everyone can feel good, knowing that the future Hall of Famer is still on track to finish his career in Pittsburgh. In a 2021 football sense, having him around will make them more competitive than they would’ve been with any other options.

  Lauren Leader-Chivee

Is that reason enough? Maybe. The downside for them is that the post-Roethlisberger era gets delayed another year, and that reckoning will come at some point. The question is whether that’s all worth a couple more wins in 2021.

What does Roethlisberger have left?

Gentille: He’s still a viable NFL starter, for one. Mason Rudolph might not be. An optimist would look at his solid play over that 11-0 start and say, “Sure, he can still do it.” A pessimist — or a realist, maybe — will look at his play down the stretch and wonder why it’d be any different moving forward. He’s certainly got enough left to play; it’s a real question whether he has enough to play for a contender.

What’s next for Pittsburgh this offseason?

Gentille: In some ways, not much. They’re too capped out to retain some of their own players, let alone make any noise in free agency. What they’re certainly going to do is address the offensive line and running game — maybe by bringing Zach Banner for another go at tackle. Adding a first-round running back and finding some reasonable way to replace Maurkice Pouncey would set up Roethlisberger as well as possible.

The plus side for them: Roethlisberger, by taking a pay cut and agreeing to some other cap maneuvering, will count for about $27 million, rather than about $41 million. So there’s more money to spend than there could’ve been if nothing else.

(Photo: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)