Steelers Rumors: 'Very Safe' to Assume Ben Roethlisberger Has 'Bad Blood' with Team

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVMay 12, 2022

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JANUARY 16: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws the ball in the fourth quarter of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
David Eulitt/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger reportedly have "bad blood" related to how the team handled his departure.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote it's "very very safe to assume" that the Steelers essentially forced Roethlisberger into retirement. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported there is a belief the Steelers were ready to move on during the 2021 offseason, offering Roethlisberger a contract "high enough to avoid insulting him but low enough to keep him from taking it."

Roethlisberger instead agreed to an altered contract that paid him only $14 million for the 2021 season. His salary was among the lowest for a starter who was not playing on a rookie contract.

The Steelers managed to make the playoffs in large part despite Roethlisberger, whose mobility and arm strength took significant nosedives. He threw for 3,740 yards and 22 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, though those numbers arguably oversell what he brought to the table. The veteran's 35.6 QBR ranked 25th among qualifying quarterbacks, putting him behind the likes of Taylor Heinicke, Daniel Jones and Teddy Bridgewater. 

Roethlisberger retired in January, but the writing was likely on the wall in Pittsburgh even if he wanted to continue playing. It's possible he could have signed a deal on reputation to continue playing elsewhere. That said, it's telling that there were no rumors of any team coaxing him out of retirement.

The Steelers slammed the door shut on the Roethlisberger era in last month's NFL draft, selecting Kenny Pickett with their first-round pick. 

It's possible, if not likely, that the bad blood stems from Big Ben feeling he was shoved out the door despite rewriting the Steelers record books.