Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger Now The 15th Highest-Paid Player In The NFL

Ben Roethlisberger (AP Photo)

Despite only winning one playoff game in five attempts, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan received a five-year, $103.75 million contract extension on Thursday that makes him the second-highest paid player in the league.

Ryan, who is heading into his sixth season in the league, has $59 million of his new deal guaranteed, and he will earn $63 million in the first three years, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.

That extension now means Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has a 10-4 playoff record to go along with two Super Bowl championships, is the 15th highest-paid player in the league when looking at the average yearly pay received by all players.

Since the end of last season, Ryan now joins Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo as the quarterbacks who have received new deals. Next offseason, Roethlisberger, and perhaps even Eli Manning, will both have their armored cars ready for big time deals.

Should Roethlisberger lead the Steelers to another Super Bowl in 2013, you wouldn\’t be able to fault him for asking for the sky, as he would more than deserve it. So how much would it cost the Steelers?

Being that Rodgers leads the way with an average yearly value of $22 million, that would be a good place to start. Would $23 million average per year work for Roethlisberger? Possibly. What about guaranteed money, as that is really the biggest factor in all of these deals, because of the salary cap ramifications?

In the latest extension signed by Brady, he upped his guaranteed money to $60 million. Behind him now sits Ryan with $59 million, and he is followed by Romo, who received $55 million in guarantees just a few weeks ago.

Should Roethlisberger\’s extension be for five years, you would think that it would be structured about the same way that Rodgers\’ new deal was. He received a $35 million signing bonus and $54 million guaranteed in his recent five-year extension, so Roethlisberger would likely get around $38 million as a signing bonus with around $60 million guaranteed in the first three years with the total value of the deal coming in at around $115 million.

Roethlisberger is already scheduled to count $18.895 million against the cap in 2014, with $6.795 million of that locked in as previous bonus proration. If the Steelers don\’t feel the need to lower his 2014 and 2015 scheduled cap numbers that much, they could give him a $4.5 million base salary next season and another $5.5 million guaranteed base salary in 2015, and that would not only guarantee him $48 million in the first two years, but keep his previously scheduled cap numbers roughly the same in the process. In 2016, Roethlisberger would get the remaining $12 million guaranteed in a combined base salary plus roster bonus. At that point, all the guaranteed money would be paid and only two years of $7.6 million proration would remain on the books. The hope of course would be that Roethlisberger plays for four more seasons. Should he need to be released after the 2016 season, however, the dead money in 2017 would be $7.6 million if he was to be released after June 1st with the remaining $7.6 million being charged off as dead money in 2018. Those are bad cap hits, but they shouldn\’t be crippling with the salary cap expected to jump by then.

Should Roethlisberger get injured again in 2013 and not play in at least 14 games, the Steelers will really have a big decision to make. Roethlisberger\’s price might not be as high as Rodgers, but even a $100 million, five-year extension would come with huge risk based not only on his age, but his pattern of being injured as well.