Steelers want long-term deals for both Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell
There is a legitimate possibility that the Pittsburgh Steelers could look very different in the near future if Le’Veon Bell leaves in free agency and Ben Roethlisberger decides to retire, but the team seems confident neither of those things will happen.
While speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II said the team will try to work out a contract extension with Roethlisberger, who apparently wants to play beyond the two seasons he is signed for. Rooney also said signing Bell to a long-term deal is a priority.
Steelers prez Art Rooney II to reporters:
1) Ben Roethlisberger wants to play beyond contract (2 yrs left), both sides to explore extension at some point
2) Team wants LT deal with Le'Veon Bell and has "next several weeks" to figure out. Stayed neutral on franchise tag
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 7, 2018
Rooney said he hasn't had a long conversation with Roethlisberger about an extension other than him saying that he's interested in playing beyond this contract. "That's good news to me," Rooney said. @TheAthleticPIT
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) February 7, 2018
If the Steelers can’t come to an agreement on a long-term deal with Bell, they will almost certainly use the franchise tag for a second straight year. Bell has said he would rather sit out the entire 2018 season or retire than play under the franchise tag again, but he recently expressed optimism about where the negotiations stand.
Roethlisberger played at a very high level again in 2017, so there’s no reason he can’t continue to produce for another two-plus seasons. Although, with some of the questions he has raised about his own future in recent offseasons, it seems like he could abruptly decide to call it a career at any moment.