Are Steelers making the right move bringing back Ben Roethlisberger?

Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Recent reports from Ben Roethlisberger’s agent suggest that the Steelers will be bringing Ben back for another season. Is this the right move?

After a strenuous month of refreshing Twitter and waiting to see what is going to happen with Ben Roethlisberger, it looks like we might be getting our answer. NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala first reported that there was a ‘very, very strong feeling in Pittsburgh that it is time to move on. However, in one day’s time, it seems that the Steelers are on board with keeping Ben in 2021 after all.

Kinkhabwala reported Tuesday evening that Roethlisberger’s agent, Ryan Tollner, had the following to say about Ben’s status with the team:

"“They want Ben back and will contact me soon to address his cap situation. As we’ve shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible.”"

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac also reported that Ben Roethlisberger met with President Art Rooney II. Although the Steelers have yet to work out all of the details, the report suggested that talks were positive and that the team was on the same page.

Why bringing back Ben may not be the right choice for Steelers

When the news broke yesterday that it appeared Ben would be returning to the team in 2021, Steelers fans were split down the middle. Allowing Big Ben to play out the final year of his contract likely gives Pittsburgh the best chance of staying competitive for at least one more season. But at what cost?

The Steelers have been vocal that in order to get Roethlisberger to return to the team in 2021, something must be done about his $41.25 million cap number. While he said that he would be willing to take a pay cut, what he actually meant is that he doesn’t need to see all of that money right now.

Instead, what the Steelers are most likely to do in order to bring him back is sign him to a ‘phony’ extension with voidable years that will lower his cap hit in 2021, but spread out dead money over the course of the next several years – handicapping future teams after Ben is gone.

In addition, Ben’s return could cause Pittsburgh to make some other questionable financial moves. They could choose to bring back older players like Alejandro Villanueva instead of young building blocks like Cameron Sutton or Mike Hilton. They could also get themselves into future trouble by extending and backloading the contracts of players like Steven Nelson and David DeCastro – potentially causing them to take massive dead money hits down the road.

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Steelers fans have the right to ask: what is the purpose in all of this? For those who don’t believe that Ben Roethlisberger is capable of winning a Super Bowl at the age of 39, why kick the can down the road any longer, delay an actual rebuild, and potentially cap-strap future teams? Pittsburgh could prove to be competitive with Ben in 2021, but it won’t come without cost.