Ben Roethlisberger may want to keep playing for another five years, but the Steelers were smart to only sign up for three more seasons of Big Ben.
Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the future of the Steelers franchise, but he is their present at the quarterback position. Credit Pittsburgh’s front office for understanding the difference.
That differentiation may seem like semantics to come, but it’s going to be crucial for the Steelers’ ability to build their roster for the next decade. It would have been easy for GM Kevin Colbert and company to get carried away with tying the franchise icon down with a new deal. Instead, the franchise did the smart thing and limited Big Ben’s new deal to what effectively is a new, three-year deal.
According to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger is expected to make over $30 million in each of the two new seasons in his contract. Effectively that means he’ll be the team’s starter through 2021. That certainly pays him handsomely considering he’ll be nearing 40 years of age at the time of its conclusion, but the compensation wasn’t the danger for Pittsburgh here. Instead, the Steelers needed to be careful of giving Roethlisberger too many years.
The worst case scenario for Steelers fans would have seen Roethlisberger getting a five-year contract even at a lower dollar figure. The franchise easily could have overreacted to the recent losses of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown by making a show of keeping Big Ben in town for the sake of stability. Fortunately for fans in Pittsburgh, that didn’t happen.
Instead, the Steelers have now successfully charted an exit plan for life after Roethlisberger. Barring injury or significant age-related regression, he’ll remain the team’s starter for the next three seasons. That effectively puts Colbert and his front office on the clock to find a replacement. Three years should give Pittsburgh plenty of time to come up with a new answer at the game’s most important position.
Perhaps more importantly, this new deal should keep Roethlisberger content for the near future. The last thing this franchise needs is another veteran speaking negatively about his team to the press. Giving Roethlisberger a new deal at a good salary should keep him quiet for at least another two seasons.
The Steelers front office has made some missteps this offseason, but this deal to extend Roethlisberger isn’t one of them. It’s a quality sign of self-restraint by a franchise that needs a healthy combination of stability and new blood moving forward. Giving Big Ben three years positions the franchise to do both at the quarterback position.