Steelers GM Kevin Colbert did not commit to Ben Roethlisberger in 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert did not commit to bringing Ben Roethlisberger back in his latest press conference. Here’s what we know. 

Kevin Colbert addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon, at it came to nobody’s surprise that a majority of the questions pertained to the status of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As I’m sure you are aware at this point, the Steelers have had two players retire so far this offseason – Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald – while more than a dozen others are set to hit free agency in March.

This no doubt has some sort of bearing on Roethlisberger’s willingness to come back to play a final season. But by the sound of things, Colbert isn’t willing to hitch his horse to that wagon either. According to comments from his press conference, Colbert stated that Ben is still the quarterback of the Steelers as we sit here today, but he also added that “there’s a lot of work to be done.”

What needs to be done?

Throughout the offseason, the Steelers have made it known that in order to bring Ben Roethlisberger back, it’s going to require them to lower his current $41.25 million cap number that the team is set to take on. In order to do this, an extension that allows Pittsburgh to push the money into the future is the only realistic option.

While Ben could technically take a pay-cut, there’s no doubt that his agent will be advising against this and he’s not going to be willing to play for pennies in 2021, no matter what he may have led you to believe. If Colbert and company are going to find a way for Roethlisberger to return for a final season, it will likely come at the cost of pushing more dead money into the future.

What will the Steelers do?

If you would have asked this question to anyone in the Steelers media circle a month ago, they would have told you confidently that Ben Roethlisberger would be back. However, with each passing day, it seems incredibly more plausible that the future Hall of Fame quarterback may indeed be done. In fact, after Colbert’s most recent comments, we could be looking at a coin-flips chance on his return right now. So what will the Steelers do?

Knowing the win-now mentality that the Rooney family and Kevin Colbert have always operated under, I still think they explore every possible route that could allow them to get their quarterback on the field for one more season. However, it’s clear that they won’t let this come at the expense of the team in 2021.

Ben’s cap hit is clearly too great for the player that he is at this point, and Colbert isn’t oblivious to that. Much of this decision could be tied to the NFL salary cap in 2021, and how much money they will have to work with. Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t too great (as Pittsburgh sits over $30 million in the hole) and they may not be willing to jeopardize their future cap situations to keep Roethlisberger around for one more year.

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Based on Kevin Colbert’s recent comments and the current outlook for the 2021 season, I would almost lean towards Ben Roethlisberger calling it quits this offseason. Though the Steelers are apparently still giving him time to decide, he won’t be back if they can’t find a way to lower his cap hit without costing the team.