Ben Roethlisberger Returning to Steelers Was 'Always Our Goal,' Says Rooney

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 25, 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger chose to remain in the city he's called home since 2004 when he agreed to a new contract that sees his salary drop from $19 million to $14 million for the 2021 season. 

That ended speculation on Roethlisberger's possible retirement for now, and on Thursday, team owner Art Rooney II took some questions on a fan call and discussed the 17-year veteran's return. 

ESPN's Brooke Pryor relayed Rooney's quotes from the call (h/t Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk).

"We wanted Ben back and the key to it was being able to restructure his contract that allowed us to keep Ben and sign other players," Rooney said. "Ben cooperated with that and willing to make changes in his contract. That allowed us to keep him on the team this year.

"That was always our goal. I thought Ben had a very good year last year for somebody coming off arm surgery. I think hopefully he'll have an even better year this year with another year under his belt in terms of recovery from that arm surgery."

Roethlisberger completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 33 touchdowns (10 interceptions) and 6.3 yards per pass attempt one year after missing all but two games with a season-ending right elbow injury. 

The Steelers started 11-0 but lost five of their last six games, including an AFC Wild Card Round defeat to the Cleveland Browns.

The ex-Miami of Ohio star will look to run it back for at least one more year on an offense that will feature some new faces: Center Maurkice Pouncey retired, and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and running back James Conner are also free agents.

Big Ben does return his top four pass-catchers in Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Eric Ebron.