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Steelers Want Ben Roethlisberger Back, Will Work on New Contract, Says Rooney II

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) calls a signal during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday saying he held a "productive meeting" with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger where the sides shared mutual interest in restructuring his contract to keep him with the franchise for the 2021 NFL season.

Burt Lauten @SteelersPRBurt

Statement from #Steelers President Art Rooney II on QB Ben Roethlisberger: https://t.co/mB0CwkmrCh

Ryan Tollner, Big Ben's agent, told the NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala after Tuesday's discussions the 38-year-old signal-caller's "fire burns strong" and they're ready to help the Steelers "creatively adjust his contract":

Aditi Kinkhabwala @AKinkhabwala

Ben Roethlisberger will indeed be back as the #Steelers starting QB this fall. Just connected w/ the two-time Super Bowl winner’s agent, Ryan Tollner, who said this: https://t.co/YnWRWwkbeM

Roethlisberger posted another strong statistical season in 2020, completing 65.6 percent of his throws for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 15 appearances.

However, his arm strength seemed to diminish during the later stages of the regular season, and analysts didn't rate him as well as his numbers would suggest. He ranked 22nd in ESPN's Total QBR (60.1), and he received a mediocre 69 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.

Taking Week 17 off before the Steelers' playoff appearance appeared to help rest his arm, as he bounced back to complete an NFL playoff record 47 passes in a Wild Card Round loss to the Cleveland Browns. He connected on four touchdowns but also threw four picks in the 48-37 season-ending defeat.

His two-year, $68 million contract includes a $41.25 million cap hit for 2021, which is unsustainable for a team that's already over the projected salary cap for next season.

It sounds like Pittsburgh has decided to make at least one more run with Roethlisberger leading the offense, and perhaps a full offseason of rest can help revitalize his arm after he spent last offseason rehabbing following elbow surgery that ended his 2019 season after two games.

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His expected return shouldn't deter the front office from trying to find a quarterback of the future.

It already took a flier on former Washington Football Team first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who was released after less than two seasons following poor play and off-field problems. Taking another QB in the middle rounds of the draft would make sense.

Roethlisberger's play next season will determine whether he has a chance to return for 2022 and beyond, or if it's time to begin a new era under center in Pittsburgh.

A strong year from Big Ben could put the Steelers among the chief Super Bowl contenders in the AFC.

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