Steelers: Should Ben Roethlisberger Take a Discount?


Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert spoke with reporters after arriving in Indianapolis today for the NFL Scouting Combine that contract extension talks between the team and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger were still ongoing and he reiterated that the goal is to finalize a deal that keeps Ben Roethlisberger a Steeler for the remainder of his career.

With Roethlisberger’s age, and the going rate for “elite” quarterbacks these days being at or around $20 million per year, should the 11-year veteran take a “hometown discount” to save the team some cap space they’ll need to shore up a leaky defense that can match their newly discovered high-powered offense?

Roethlisberger is coming off of his best season of his career and is entering the final year of a $102 million deal he signed in 2008. In the 2014 season Roethlisberger matched or broke his own records for passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback rating. He also had his lowest sack percentage of his career in 2014, proving that he’s got the protection the team promised him and he’s getting rid of the ball quicker to protect himself.

The Steelers have gaping holes on their defense so wide you can drive a Mack truck through them and while it is possible to fill them through the draft, it would be beneficial to be able to sign free agents, or even re-sign some of their own free agents. While the Steelers always seem to start the free agency period at or over the cap, they do manage to get under just in the nick of time and do a whole lot of restructuring to get all the signings they want to make.

Ben Roethlisberger should really go after every penny he can get. He’s the main contributor to the Steelers’ success and everyone from the Rooneys down to the towel boys have said that they intend on making sure he retires a Steeler. He shouldn’t have to take a discount when the Steelers have been as creative as they have been with their contracts. There are ways to get around having high cap hits. In fact, if they extend his contract and give him a bigger signing bonus, they’ll actually lower his cap hit for the 2015 season.

Kevin Colbert said to the PPG as recent as last week that he thinks Ben’s best years are still ahead of him, even after the record-breaking season he just had.

"“I think Ben is a franchise quarterback that is getting better with age. You have seen it with a couple of great players that are still playing in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Their games have certainly not deteriorated. I really think Ben is going to be a better quarterback down the road than he has been up to this point. I think that is his goal, too.” – Kevin Colbert"

For that reason I don’t think Ben should be talked into taking any kind of discount, he should go in there and say, “What’s the highest you’re prepared to go?” and let Colbert and Omar Khan figure out how the rest of the signings will play out. It’s not Ben’s fault they potentially overpaid last season for an underwhelming Cortez Allen.

It’s not Ben’s fault they paid Jason Worilds almost $10 million last year and may have to do it again this year if they can’t get him down to a long-term deal. He’s more than earned a top-tier contract extension.  You hear reports of Tom Brady “taking pay cuts” to help the Patriots sign players but those are really just restructures made to look like pay cuts when he’s not getting a dime less than before.

It would benefit the Steelers to extend Roethlisberger before the free agency period begins on March 10th, lowering his cap hit and giving them more space available for signings. I wouldn’t put it passed Ben to take a discount if it means staying here which he has professed to be his ultimate goal, but I also wouldn’t blame him one bit for going after every penny he can get. He’s earned it.

What do you think Steeler Nation? Should Ben Roethlisberger take a discount on his contract extension to help the Steelers out?

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