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#pounditFriday, September 25, 2020

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers are taking a big risk with Ben Roethlisberger contract extension

Ben Roethlisberger

The Pittsburgh Steelers are extending Ben Roethlisberger’s contract, one year before the current deal was set to expire. Roethlisberger, who just turned 37, has openly pondered retirement in the past and said he does not know how long he will play. He’s now the last man standing in Pittsburgh, with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell gone.

Pittsburgh is putting faith that Big Ben will age like Tom Brady and Drew Brees have recently, because this year was already under contract and the extension applies to age 38 and 39. While it is true that rule changes have helped stave off Father Time, I would be hesitant to view this situation as identical for several reasons. Roethlisberger is not Brady in terms of the extreme diet and focus on his body. He’s had more injuries over the course of his career and taken more hits than both Brady and Brees, and he’s a different body type.

But just as importantly, Roethlisberger has had it really good in terms of offensive teammates. It’s hard to separate out the full contribution of a quarterback from all of his offensive teammates and scheme, but comparatively, we can say that Roethlisberger has had “A” level help on offense and the Steelers have put up “B” level results.

Let’s put his offensive teammates in some historical perspective. Here is a list of guys that are, in my estimation, the top 25 quarterbacks from ages 32 to 36, accounting for Hall of Famers who were still doing it through age 36, and others that had good production in their mid-30s. This shows how many offensive teammates they played with at those ages that were Pro Bowlers and/or First-Team All-Pros. That final number is the quarterback’s league-adjusted net yards per passing attempt (ANYA). A score of 100 is average, higher is better, and MVP candidates tend to be above 120.

Roethlisberger is behind only Trent Green in terms of average number of All-Pro and Pro Bowl teammates through his mid-thirties. Green did not age gracefully as his offensive scheme and talented teammates declined, and retired before his 38th birthday. Roethlisberger more than doubles most of the other good quarterbacks in their mid-30s in terms of top teammates, yet his efficiency numbers are middle of the pack compared to that group. If you want to compare him to Brees and Brady, then it’s fair to note that those two have had more talent (as measured by Pro Bowl teammates) in their late-30s than in their mid-30s, and that has helped them stay productive. Roethlisberger has had more All-Pro teammates in the last five years (nine seasons) than Brees and Brady did combined from ages 32 to 36, yet those two put up higher efficiency numbers over those same ages.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that it is unlikely that Roethlisberger’s situation is better at age 38 and 39 than it was in the past few years. Not only are Brown and Bell gone, but the offensive line, which has been a stable force with several top players, will be aging. By 2020, all four of the main cogs — David DeCastro, Alejandro Villanueva, Maurkice Pouncey, and Ramon Foster — on the offensive line who have started 241 games over the last four seasons collectively will be over the age of 30. Pittsburgh’s offensive line consistency has been a big factor in the recent offensive run, but they will be one of the oldest position groups in short order.

There have been 50 teams that have had five offensive starters named to the Pro Bowl, excluding the quarterback, since the AFL-NFL merger. Pittsburgh in the last two seasons comprises two of them. The average quarterback playing with five-plus Pro Bowlers on offense put up a league-adjusted ANYA score of 120. Roethlisberger is below that, at 111 and 112 over the last two years, and is in the bottom 12 out of those 50 seasons by pass efficiency for each. (Dieter Brock, who started his first ever NFL game at age 34 with the 1985 Rams, had a league average score of 100 for the lowest among this group).

Most of the elite quarterbacks, when playing with a top 5 percent group of offensive players, put up near-MVP level numbers. We have not seen that consistently from Roethlisberger over the last two years, as he will have great games but is near league average in throwing interceptions and has not been as consistent in putting up big numbers.

You can pay one of the best three to five quarterbacks in the league the top money. You can afford to go cheap and get a younger quarterback and let the offensive core bolster him (see Dallas for an example). What you cannot afford to do is pay an average to slightly above average starter a salary equal to the best in the game. I would question whether choosing to do so for Roethlisberger at age 38 and 39 is a good move. That’s especially true because they did not have to pay him. 2019 is a big risk variable year in Pittsburgh. There have been big changes. Because he was under contract, the Steelers could have waited to see how things went this season for Roethlisberger with Brown removed from the mix. Now, Pittsburgh is paying Ben for future years, and they better hope it does indeed turn out like Brady and Brees and not like, well, just about every other quarterback in history.

Report: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers close to finalizing contract extension

Ben Roethlisberger

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.

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.

Report: Steelers working hard on contract extension for Ben Roethlisberger

Ben Roethlisberger

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.

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.

Bruce Arians defends Ben Roethlisberger against leadership criticism

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.

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.

James Harrison defends Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership credentials

James Harrison

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.”

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.

Maurkice Pouncey defends Roethlisberger against Le’Veon Bell criticism

Ben Roethlisberger

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.

“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 reportedly refusing to answer Ben Roethlisberger phone calls

Antonio Brown

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.

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.

Steelers GM won’t stop Ben Roethlisberger from sharing opinions publicly

Ben Roethlisberger

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.

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.

Antonio Brown blasts Ben Roethlisberger’s ‘owner mentality’ in tweet

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown wants to leave the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he appears willing to go scorched earth on his way out.

Brown blasted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Twitter Saturday when asked by a fan about the source of conflict between the two. Brown claimed Roethlisberger has an “owner mentality” and feels he can criticize anyone, and players who complain are shipped out of town because of the quarterback’s importance.

In other words, Brown feels Roethlisberger can call anyone out and get away with it, but he’s the bad guy if he calls out his quarterback.

The fact that there’s bad blood between these two was not a secret, and Brown had been dropping some hints in his Twitter likes indicating that he was completely done with Roethlisberger. It’s pretty tough to see them clearing the air after this, especially with Brown trying to force his way out of Pittsburgh.

Antonio Brown ‘likes’ tweets about Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault allegations

Ben Roethlisberger

Antonio Brown may have given a sign on Friday that he is open to smoothing things over with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but his social media activity still says otherwise.

When Brown essentially abandoned the Steelers during the final week of the regular season, a report claimed he had an ugly altercation with Ben Roethlisberger before he left the team. If that wasn’t evidence enough that the relationship between Brown and Roethlisberger is strained, perhaps Brown “liking” two tweets about the sexual assault allegations against Big Ben will be.

It seems like Brown was just trying to point out that there is a double standard with how Steelers fans view players, but it says a lot that he called attention to the allegations against Roethlisberger. Though Roethlisberger has tried to downplay the issues between the two recently, he can’t be happy about that.

Brown has reportedly agreed to meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, but it still seems unlikely that he will remain with the team in 2019. The tweet he sent earlier in the week was fairly straightforward, and subtly calling out Roethlisberger is just further evidence that he’s not on good terms with his teammates.