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Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers' 'Significant' New Contract Talks Ongoing

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 30: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is hit as he throws by Shawn Williams #36 of the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on December 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are holding contract extension talks, according to Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network:

Aditi Kinkhabwala @AKinkhabwala

The #Steelers contract talks w/ Ben Roethlisberger are “still ongoing,” GM Kevin Colbert said. “This is probably his last contract as an NFL player, so it’s significant” - to the player and club, he said.

Roethlisberger, 37, has continued to post impressive counting stats, registering 5,129 passing yards, 34 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 2018 while completing 67 percent of his passes.

While those were big numbers, Roethlisberger didn't grade out particularly well at Pro Football Focus, where he received a mark of 78.2 (16th among quarterbacks). While he set a career high in yards and touchdowns, he also set a career high in attempts, somewhat inflating those numbers.

Additionally, his 16 interceptions tied for the second-worst mark of his career, and his 11.3 yards per completion ranks as the worst.

Another fascinating storyline to follow will be how Big Ben fares without superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was traded to the Oakland Raiders this offseason. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been excellent in his first two years, but replacing a future Hall of Famer is no small thing.

As for the ongoing questions about Roethlisberger's leadership, general manager Kevin Colbert said the team isn't paying attention to that talk:

Aditi Kinkhabwala @AKinkhabwala

GM Kevin Colbert says he and the #Steelers organization feel the recent public chatter regarding Ben Roethlisberger and his locker room personality is just white noise: “We feel comfortable knowing Ben is our quarterback and our leader.”

Brown publicly questioned Big Ben's leadership style on more than one occasion this offseason, saying the quarterback has an "owner mentality" on Twitter:

Antonio Brown @AB84

No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny

He also questioned why Roethlisberger didn't face criticism when he made mistakes, the way other Steelers did.

"[That's] the type of guy he is. He feels like he’s the owner," Brown said on HBO's The Shop in early March (h/t Chris Adamski of TribLive.com). "'Bro, you threw the (expletive) to the D-lineman. What the (expletive)? I'm over here wide-open. You need to give me a better ball.'"

It's unclear if the rest of the locker room feels the same. Pittsburgh's front office clearly doesn't, however.

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