The Pittsburgh Steelers have no intention of allowing Ben Roethlisberger to play out the final year of his contract in 2019, and they appear to be on the verge of signing the Pro Bowl quarterback to a contract extension.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that Roethlisberger and the Steelers have made “significant progress” on a new deal and could finalize it as soon as Wednesday.
The #Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger have made significant progress on a contract extension that will make him, once again, one of the highest paid players, source say. The two sides are in the final stages and a deal could be announced as soon as today.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2019
Roethlisberger is entering the final year of a four-year, $87.4 million contract he signed during the 2015 offseason. He still played at an incredibly high level in 2018, throwing for 5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. It makes sense that his new deal would make him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
It was not that long ago that Big Ben made some comments indicating he was close to calling it a career, but that is clearly not the case.
Ben Roethlisberger is set to become a free agent after the 2019 NFL season, and the Pittsburgh Steelers do not want to see him reach that point.
The team is working hard to sign Roethlisberger to a contract extension prior to the NFL Draft, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Steelers working hard to complete a contact extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Thursday night’s NFL draft begins, per sources. The 37-year-old Roethlisberger is scheduled to be headed into the final year of his contract, but Pitt wants to retain him well beyond.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2019
Roethlisberger signed a 4-year, $87.4 million contract extension in March 2015 that was expiring after 2019.
Though he is 37 years old and threatened to retire a few years in a row, he is still playing well. Roethlisberger passed for 5,129 yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last season. He will begin a new chapter with the Steelers in the coming season, one without Antonio Brown.
- Ben Roethlisberger
Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have raised a lot of questions about whether or not Ben Roethlisberger is respected among his Pittsburgh Steelers teammates, and you can add Bruce Arians to the growing list of people who believe the quarterback is a great leader.
Arians, who served as an offensive assistant in Pittsburgh from 2004-2011, was asked about Roethlisberger’s leadership traits at the NFL coaches breakfast on Tuesday. He had no problem throwing support behind Big Ben.
Bruce Arians on Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership: “Guys have to have thicker skin, man. He’s the leader. He’s the guy. Early in his career everybody said, ‘hey, you’re not vocal enough.’ But you had Jerome Bettis and Alan Faneca and you didn’t have to be. It’s his team.“ pic.twitter.com/i0XkdOM9Yo
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 26, 2019
Bell said in a recent interview that Roethlisberger “was a factor” in his wanting to leave Pittsburgh, and Brown made it clear this offseason that he felt the same way. However, Arians is not the only person who has seen Roethlisberger’s work first-hand and disagrees.
Multiple players who either play with or have played with Roethlisberger have come forward and said he is a good teammate and leader. Whether to believe them or some disgruntled superstars who are no longer with the Steelers is a matter of opinion.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has never shied away from talking about his former teammates and coaches, sometimes critically. So it’s worth noting when he’s rather diplomatic about things.
That was his reaction to chatter about Ben Roethlisberger as a leader, with Harrison saying Monday that he found the quarterback to be “a good teammate and a good leader.”
This was James Harrison comment on Ben Roethlisberger from @TheHerd show today— "The people that are saying he's a bad teammate, that's their truth. For me, I think Ben is a good teammate and a good leader."
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) March 25, 2019
If this seems diplomatic toward all sides, it’s probably because it is. Harrison defended Antonio Brown, too, and Brown has been very critical of Roethlisberger’s leadership. Harrison has a problem with coach Mike Tomlin, but it doesn’t appear to extend to his former teammates, even those who are at odds.
Ben Roethlisberger has come under fire this offseason thanks to some of the things Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have said about him on their way out of Pittsburgh, but Maurkice Pouncey wants to make it clear that not everyone who played with the quarterback feels that way.
In a lengthy interview with Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated, Bell admitted that Roethlisberger “was a factor” in his wanting to leave the Steelers. He indicated his belief is that Big Ben feels he’s bigger than the team.
“Quarterbacks are leaders; it is what it is,” Bell said. “(But) you’re still a teammate at the end of the day. You’re not (general manager) Kevin Colbert. You’re not (team owner) Art Rooney.”
Brown has made similar remarks about Roethlisberger this offseason, and Pouncey wanted to set the record straight on Wednesday.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve been with Ben going on 10yr I swear on my kids he is a true LEADER!! sucks to see players who leave and are mad at the organization now try and point fingers like they are perfect! But this is the world we live in now !
A post shared by Maurkice Pouncey (@maurkicepouncey) on
“I’ve been with Ben going on 10yr I swear on my kids he is a true LEADER!! sucks to see players who leave and are mad at the organization now try and point fingers like they are perfect! But this is the world we live in now!” Pouncey wrote.
Pouncey is not the first member of the Steelers organization to stand behind Roethlisberger this offseason, and you have to take anything Brown and Bell say with a grain of salt. They clearly had several strained relationships in Pittsburgh, even if their issues with Big Ben have attracted the most attention.
Antonio Brown has made it clear he wants to be traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he seems fully committed to that idea.
Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager wondered whether the situation could be salvaged by a phone call from Ben Roethlisberger to Brown to work things out. Fansided’s Jason Cole says Big Ben has tried to call Brown multiple times and that Brown won’t pick up the phone.
Roethlisberger has tried to call. Several times. AB won't pick up the phone. Whether he should or not is irrelevant. Fact is, he's not picking up. https://t.co/W2iLnHknmM
— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) March 6, 2019
How long this has been going on is unclear, but it shows that Brown is not open to returning to the Steelers. If he were, he might answer these calls and try to work things out with his teammates. Instead, he’s ripped Roethlisberger’s “owner mentality” and seems to have distanced himself from the team completely. He wants out and that’s it.
If there’s any question, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on Ben Roethlisberger’s side when it comes to speaking publicly and sharing his opinion.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that Roethlisberger has free reign to speak publicly as the organization’s clear leader and someone who has been there and done it all before.
Kevin Colbert emphatically endorsed Ben Roethlisberger's leadership, citing impassioned speech at halftime in Jax as one example. Colbert won't curb Big Ben sharing opinions on radio b/c "Ben’s the elder statesman. If the players were smart, they’d listen to him. he’s been there"
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) February 20, 2019
In other words, Antonio Brown, who has criticized exactly what the Steelers are praising here, is out of luck. There’s a reason the Steelers are willing to trade him. This is clearly Roethlisberger’s team, for better or worse, and his word carries a lot of weight — more than that of his teammates, Brown included.