Hines Ward: “I Can’t Foresee Ben Putting On Another Uniform”

Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward was a guest Wednesday morning on the NFL Network morning show and you can bet he was asked about the Sunday report from Ian Rapoport that suggested quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would likely ask the team to explore trading him this coming offseason

“No,” said Ward when asked if he could imagine his former teammate ever playing in a different uniform. “Big Ben playing in a different uniform, it’s just crazy to even think that. So you hear some of the reports of him wanting to get out of Pittsburgh, but that’s just the media. You never know where these stories come up and its unfortunate that he has to answer those questions, but I can’t foresee Ben putting on another uniform.”

Ward is right when he says it’s unfortunate that Roethlisberger has to answer questions about a story that has been tabbed as being “erroneous” not only by the quarterback, but his agent and the Steelers. We’re still talking about, however, and likely will be for the rest of the season.

As far as a possible contract extension goes for Roethlisberger this upcoming season, Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Wednesday during his online chat that he would be a little surprised if one gets done before the start of next year because of the Steelers cap situation. In other words, just because Roethlisberger’s past extensions have happened in the next to last year of his previous contracts, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that will be the case this time around.

Roethlisberger is under contract through the 2015 season, so if the two sides can’t come to an agreement prior to the start of the new league calendar year, the Steelers will ┬ájust have to find a way to work around his $18.895 million cap charge of which $6.795 million is previous prorated bonus money. In fact, depending on what Roethlisberger will likely want in the form of a signing bonus this time around, the Steelers really don’t stand to save that much cap space in 2014 by extending him this upcoming offseason.

To illustrate this, the minimum that Roethlisberger would count against the salary cap in 2014 if no signing bonus were to be given would be roughly $8 million. On top of that would be the prorated portion of whatever new bonus he would get as part of the extension. Let’s say that he were to receive a three year extension and a $30 million signing bonus, for example. His new 2014 cap hit would be roughly $14 million. In other words, a savings of $4.895 million from what it was originally scheduled to be. Keep in mind that $30 million signing bonus is only a fictitious number used for this example as Roethlisberger’s current contract already has base salaries in 2014 and 2015 totaling $24 million and I’m not going to get into the new money over old money concept in this post.

Whether or not a Roethlisberger extension gets done this coming offseason as opposed to the following one will of course depend on how much he is looking for in the way of guaranteed money. Still, despite what I have laid out above, I still think the that the two sides will work something out prior to the start of the 2014 season. Whatever the outcome, it won’t include trading him.