Ben Roethlisberger is hurting Steelers by not retiring
By Tommy Jaggi
The Steelers are clearly at the beginning of a rebuild, but Ben Roethlisberger’s messy contract situation is prolonging the inevitable.
It’s not easy to try to shoo a veteran player out the door – especially one who has been so vital to the franchise and still has one year remaining on his contract. However, I wrote back in January that the Steelers really need to give Ben Roethlisberger an ultimatum this offseason, and there’s even more reason to believe they should at this point.
Other teams are already making moves to get their franchise in order for the 2021 season. The Los Angeles Rams made a blockbuster trade to acquire Matthew Stafford and the Indianapolis Colts just traded for Carson Wentz after Philip Rivers did his team the courtesy of retiring immediately after the season.
Though Ben Roethlisberger may have his heart set on playing for one final year, he’s not doing the Steelers any favors by prolonging this process. Already this offseason, Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald (two of Ben’s best friends on the team) have decided to walk away from the game of football, and there are over a dozen more of his teammates who are set to hit the free-agent market next month. But despite all of this, the Steelers still don’t know how to prepare for the upcoming season and who will be under center in 2021.
If Ben isn’t willing to take a pay cut, Steelers should force his hand
The rational fan knows that the Steelers don’t stand much of a shot to compete for a title in 2021. Ben Roethlisberger played some of the worst football of his career over the final six games of the 2020 season, and the roster is going to be worse this year with all of the losses.
I hate to approach the situation with this mentality, but if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t willing to take a pay cut after the Steelers clearly showed they are heading in a different direction, then Pittsburgh should force his hand and threaten to cut him if he doesn’t comply. I know this isn’t the way they’ve treated Big Ben in the past, but the Rooney’s had no trouble pushing older star players (i.e. Troy Polamalu) out the door when they wanted to move on.
The Steelers have already had multiple coaching changes this offseason – including hiring an innovative, offensive mind in Matt Canada as their offensive coordinator. In addition, a large portion of their starting lineup could look different in 2021.
The longer we go into the offseason, the more frustrating it becomes that Roethlisberger and the Steelers have not been able to get anything worked out. Pittsburgh has huge decisions to make this offseason, but they may not know what to do until they know what is happening with Ben. Do they try to keep some old veterans like Alejandro Villanueva and Joe Haden around for another year? Do they let some of their old players walk and re-sign some younger players to build for the future?
With Ben’s status for 2021 still up in the air, the Steelers are going to be behind the curve this offseason and will be forced to make a lot of important decisions in a short amount of time. If Ben Roethlisberger really isn’t willing to take any cut in pay this year, then he is simply hurting Pittsburgh by not retiring.