Should Steelers give Ben Roethlisberger an ultimatum this offsesaon?

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Ben Roethlisberger did not finish the 2020 season on a high note. Should the Steelers give him an ultimatum this offseason?

Ben Roethlisberger will likely go down as the single-most-important player the Steelers have ever had the honor to call their own. While he was never considered the best in the league at his position, the value of an NFL quarterback clearly outweighs everything else, and Big Ben was one of the better passers in the league for a very long time.

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about 2020 Ben Roethlisberger. Though he boasted an impressive touchdown to interception ratio this season (3/1), his advanced analytics were the worst he has ever seen in what was essentially a full season of play. Here’s a breakdown of how he finished the season using advanced statistics from

Should the Steelers give Ben an ultimatum?

We never like to see the rapid decline of a player who was the face of the franchise for more than a decade-and-a-half. However, even when the conditions were right, Ben Roethlisberger failed.

Pittsburgh couldn’t have asked for a better matchup to begin the playoffs than hosting the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Just a week earlier with Mason Rudolph at the helm, the Steelers nearly managed a 4th quarter comeback to tie the game, but they fell just short – losing 22-24. We would have thought that upon the return of players like Roethlisberger, T.J. Watt, Maurkice Pouncey, Terrell Edmunds, and Cameron Heyward the Pittsburgh would have run away with this game. But that wasn’t the case at all.

Playing against a decimated Browns defense (that really wasn’t all that good, to begin with), Roethlisberger threw three first-quarter interceptions (4 in all) and he and Maurkice Pouncey were mainly responsible for putting them in a 28-0 hole early on.

Now, there are talks that Pouncey could be retiring, and it’s no secret that he and Ben always wanted to walk away from the game together. But if this doesn’t happen, should the Steelers force his hand?

In 2021, Roethlisberger has an outrageously large cap number of $41.25 million, according to Over the Cap – the highest of any player in the NFL. Clearly, this isn’t justified, as Ben is nowhere near the best quarterback in the league at this point in his career. By retiring, Ben could save the Steelers a ton of money against the cap for the 2021 season and allow them to start the rebuilding process.

If, however, Roethlisberger does decide to play out the final year of his deal, it will put Pittsburgh in a very tight spot financially. Already, they are projected to be $21 million over the cap for next season, and they will have to cut at least a handful of players just to get back up into positive spending money.

Because of this, the Steelers should strongly consider giving Ben an ultimatum next season: He could either walk from the game this offseason, or Pittsburgh will cut him. Obviously, cutting him is not an ideal situation for either side, as it would cost the Steelers $22.25 million in dead cap space next year and Roethlisberger would face the humiliation of getting the boot from the team that gave him 17 years.

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An extension for Roethlisberger has to be completely out of the question at this point based on his subpar play in the second half of the 2020 season, and the Steelers really need to move on. Perhaps the only way of ensuring this happens is to give Ben an ultimatum this offseason.