Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Reportedly Set to Discuss 2021 Contract Next Week

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) walks off the field after Cleveland Browns strong safety Karl Joseph (42) recovered a fumbled snap for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are reportedly set to meet next week to discuss potential changes to his 2021 contract, which the team deems necessary to keep him with the organization.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Saturday the sides agreed they "needed to take time apart" after the 2020 season before meeting to discuss Big Ben's future in Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger has another season on his two-year, $68 million contract, which features a hefty $41.25 million cap hit for 2021.

Steelers president Art Rooney II said last week it wasn't possible to bring the six-time Pro Bowl selection back at that number.

"Ben wants to come back," Rooney told reporters. "We've left that door open. We've been, I think, up front with Ben in letting him know that we couldn't have him back under the current contract, and so I think he understands we have some work to do there."

Roethlisberger subsequently told Mark Kaboly and Ed Bouchette of The Athletic he understood the financial side of the situation and vowed to work with the front office.

"I want to do everything I can and made that very clear to them from the very beginning that it was my idea to basically help the team however I can this year," he said. "I don't care about my pay at all this year."

Pittsburgh has several important players set to become unrestricted free agents, including wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, linebackers Bud Dupree and Avery Williamson, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva and running back James Conner.

In turn, financial flexibility will be crucial as they attempt to keep at least most of the key players from a team that went 12-4 to win the AFC North title.

Roethlisberger's arm strength and deep-ball accuracy came into question after some lackluster performances late in the regular season, but his overall numbers were strong in 2020 with a 65.6 percent completion rate for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 15 games.

The 38-year-old two-time Super Bowl champion threw for 501 yards and four scores in the team's playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns, but he also tossed four picks in the 48-37 defeat.

He's still performing at a high enough level to help Pittsburgh in the short term, but that shouldn't stop the front office from trying to seek a quarterback of the future during this year's draft.