The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger have yet to come to an agreement on new contract terms for the 2021 season. Is he even worth keeping this year?
Ben Roethlisberger has not only become a focal point for Steelers fans this offseason but football fans, in general, are anxious to see what will happen with the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Big Ben signed a $91 million extension a few years back, and after backloading his deal, Pittsburgh is really starting to feel the effects of this.
As it stands, the Steelers are $19 million in debt, according to Over the Cap. Ironically enough, that’s exactly how much they could save by cutting Roethlisberger this offseason. There are several questions that need to be asked here.
For starters, is Pittsburgh able to lower Ben’s cap hit without pushing more dead money into future seasons? In order to do this, Roethlisberger would be required to take a true pay cut – something he expressed he was willing to do following the 2020 season. Instead of extending and his contract and pushing dead money ahead in voidable years, Ben needs to be willing to cut a large portion of the $19 million he is set to make in 2021.
This, however, seems incredibly unlikely, as his agent would no dout advise against doing such a thing, and let’s face it, Ben isn’t going to play for pennies – no matter what he said earlier this offseason.
Would any team sign Ben if Steelers cut him?
This brings me to an even more important question: Would any team even be willing to sign Ben Roethlisberger to a contract of at least $19 million per season if he was cut by Pittsburgh? This isn’t just an arbitrary number I’m throwing out there; I’m using it because this is what the Steelers plan on paying Ben in 2021 (though his total cap hit will be $41.25 million).
If the answer to this is a resounding no, then what is Big Ben still doing on the Steelers roster? Wouldn’t it make sense to cut Roethlisberger and re-sign him to a deal worth half this amount? Pittsburgh is going to take a $22.25 million dead cap hit no matter what, but if they can bring him back for less than $19 million, they could lower that $41.25 million cap hit this season.
If you believe that a team will sign Ben for $19 million or more in 2021, then I would proceed to ask you: who? Most of the teams who needed quarterbacks this offseason have already made moves to go get one or they are planning on taking one high in the draft this April. For those teams who miss out on these quarterbacks, what benefit does Roethlisberger provide to their organization? Is the team good enough to win a Super Bowl with him in 2021? Do they even believe that Ben can lead a team to a Super Bowl at this point?
The fact of the matter is that Ben Roethlisberger really should not hold any leverage over his team at this point, and if the Steelers don’t believe that there are teams out there who would be willing to sign him for what he’s already looking to earn this year, why hasn’t he been cut by now?