Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger Not Nearing NFL Retirement, Says GM Kevin Colbert

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2020

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 29: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers look on from the sideline against the Baltimore Ravens during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Ben Roethlisberger might turn 38 in March, but the Pittsburgh Steelers don't anticipate the six-time Pro Bowler retiring anytime soon.

"We don't think Ben is near (where Rivers and Eli Manning are) yet," general manager Kevin Colbert said, per Steelers beat writer Bob Labriola. "We don't think he's at the end of the road."

Roethlisberger was in the same draft class (2004) as Manning and Rivers. Manning retired in January, while ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers mutually agreed they'd go in separate directions this offseason.

Roethlisberger was limited to two games in 2019 after undergoing surgery on his elbow. In 2017, he entered the offseason leaving his future up in the air. However, he left little doubt about his status in December:

The future Hall of Famer had also issued a statement last September saying he intended to play out his contract with Pittsburgh:

"I can only trust God's plan, but I am completely determined to battle through this challenge and come back stronger than ever next season. The Steelers committed three years to me this offseason and I fully intend to honor my contract and reward them with championship level play. I will do all I can to support Mason and the team this season to help win games. I love this game, my teammates, the Steelers organization and fans, and I feel in my heart I have a lot left to give."

Even with Roethlisberger coming back, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac reported Pittsburgh might consider signing a veteran quarterback this offseason. The Steelers are unsure whether Big Ben will be ready to go in Week 1, and Dulac wrote they "want to avoid what happened to them last season after Roethlisberger was injured."

That underscores the lack of a long-term succession plan as well. 

Mason Rudolph threw for 1,765 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games, while Devlin Hodges finished with 1,063 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight appearances. Neither exceeded expectations, and the longer Roethlisberger plays, the harder it would become to make the 24-year-old Rudolph the heir apparent.

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