Jerome Bettis thinks Ben Roethlisberger should play one more season

Ben Roethlisberger #7 (R) #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger #7 (R) #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

In a recent interview with Jerome Bettis, ‘The Bus’ shared his reasoning behind why Ben Roethlisberger should play one more year for the Steelers. 

Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger go way back. So when I had the opportunity to ask Bettis his thoughts on what the Steelers should do with Big Ben, it was no surprise to hear him say that he should come back for one more season in 2021.

This seems to be the consensus thought. While Pittsburgh will clearly be in need of a total rebuild soon, there are many who believe the Steelers could potentially compete for a Super Bowl one last time before Roethlisberger retires and wiping the slate clean. Bettis is one of them. Here’s what he shared with me when asked what the Steelers should do with Ben Roethlisberger in 2021:

"I think they should bring [Ben Roethlisberger] back for another year. Obviously, they’ve got to address the salary cap issue, I think they can. He’s willing to make some adjustments to his salary and some other guys are gonna have to do the same… But also, address the quarterback situation in the draft… The year after, now you’ve got three guys ready to compete for the starting position at quarterback, and I think that’s the way you go."

While Jerome Bettis said that Ben should be given one more season (assuming the Steelers can get the cap issue figured out), he also claimed that Pittsburgh  should ‘address the quarterback position in the draft.’ Bettis didn’t elaborate on what he meant by this, and it’s possible that he could have simply implied that they needed more depth.

What should the Steelers really do with Ben?

Though many are on board with Ben Roethlisberger returning to play one more season, this isn’t something that is as simple as it seems. If money were no object, Pittsburgh could give him one more chance to ride off into the sunset after the 2021 season. However, money couldn’t be a bigger issue than it is right now for the Steelers.

With a $41.25 million cap number in 2021, Art Rooney II admitted that something must be done about this in order for Ben to return. Some have suggested giving Roethlisberger a ‘phony’ extension that pushes his money out over the next 4-5 years. However, there’s very little chance Roethlisberger’s agent would ever go for something like this and the Steelers would be forced to eat smaller chunks of dead money long after Ben is gone. An extension should be out of the question.

Really, the Steelers should narrow this down to two options. Either Big Ben is willing to take a substantial pay cut to stick around in 2021, or Pittsburgh needs to force his hand in retirement. If he is unwilling to comply with either, Roethlisberger should be cut.

Saving $19 million this season isn’t exactly pennies, and Mason Rudolph may genuinely be the better option by next season – especially with the meltdown we witnessed from Ben late in the year. It’s highly unlikely that there are more than one or two teams out there who would sign a 39-year-old Roethlisberger for $19 million on a one-year deal, so why should the Steelers keep him around for that price?

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Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger have a brief history that goes way back to 2005 when these two guys won the Super Bowl together. However, I tend to disagree with Bettis on this one, and unless the Steelers truly believe that Roethlisberger can win the Super Bowl with what will likely be less talent around him in 2021, then it’s time for them to part ways.