Steelers Offseason Priorities – Extending Ben Roethlisberger

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their work cut out for them coming off consecutive non-winning seasons. It takes elbow grease to get from 8-8 to a contender, as everybody knows, of course, but this offseason, the issue is more complicated than simply improving, due to some uncommon circumstances.

Some priorities require a bit of context. It would be accurate to say that working out a contract extension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a priority; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen this offseason.

Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the Steelers’ priority is to decide when is best to work out that extension, because it’s certainly a mutually desired outcome for both the organization and the player.

So is this offseason the one that the Steelers should be looking to get a new deal done? Contrary to team president Art Rooney II’s perhaps disingenuous beating around the bush on the topic earlier in the month, I believe the team would like to get the extension done this offseason.

Rooney also specifically mentioned by name Jason Worilds when asked about which of the 21 unrestricted free agents the team currently has set to hit the market that the organization would like to keep. In fact, he was the only one mentioned by name, and he would also be the most expensive to retain.

Given that, and the annual salary cap problems, it’s obvious that the potential cap savings an extension could afford the Steelers this season would be very beneficial toward the team being able to retain one of their more promising young talents.

Normally, I would open up the debate as to whether the Steelers truly want to retain Worilds under a presumably substantially elevated contract, given that it would primarily be based on a half-season’s body of work for a fourth-year player.

That’s in addition to already having a high-priced former Pro Bowler and a second-year first-round draft pick already invested in the outside linebacker position. But when the team president mentions a player by name as a priority, it’s something that you have no choice but to take seriously.

Given the need for money to re-sign free agents and the lack of salary cap space, the Steelers will certainly be looking at every opportunity to chip away at their current salary cap obligations, and that naturally includes everything from restructures, cuts, salary reductions, and contract extensions.

Roethlisberger is the biggest fish to fry in that regard. In fact, many of the potential extension candidates will be upgrading to a higher pay scale, such as Maurkice Pouncey and Cameron Heyward, while other more highly compensated players are a much greater risk to commit more money to, such as Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller.

The organization has already stated emphatically that Roethlisberger has to retire as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Roethlisberger has likewise emphatically shot down mid-season rumors about unhappiness and a potential trade by emphasizing that Pittsburgh is his home, where he intends to raise his young family.

In other words, a contract extension is already a virtual certainty, with the only variable being when it actually takes place. The Steelers could benefit by getting it done as soon as possible in order to afford to address their premium free agent before he has a chance to hit the open market in March. Plus, it couldn’t hurt to get it done before the standard of elite quarterback compensation inflates any further, with average yearly salaries now exceeding $20 million.

Previous Articles In This Series
Steelers Offseason Priorities – A Primer
Steelers Offseason Priorities – Finding An Offensive Line Coach
Steelers Offseason Priorities – What To Do With Woodley And Worilds
Steelers Offseason Priorities – Replenishing The WR Depth Chart
Steelers Offseason Priorities – Riding The The Defensive End Carousel

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • steeltown

    Yep, that’s the main reason I think it should be done sooner than later, the way QB contracts are constantly on the rise. If we wait till 2015 there are a couple guys that could get big deals, in turn driving up the price, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton come to mind, I think Rivers and Eli Manning are FAs the after 2015 just like Ben. It would be wise to get it done.

  • AndyR34

    One has to be very careful about what AR2 says regarding players…or really anything. He is a media-savvy lawyer and be certain that his comments are carefully constructed to be able to say, ‘It’s not our fault…’ if something doesn’t happen. In addition, he will also try to mis-lead our competitors as well as to the Steelers intentions. That being said, I do think that they will try to restructure BB…for they really need to do so…and they will negotiate with Worilds’ agent. Beyond that, I take nothing for granted.

  • Michael Pearce

    If Ben is not restructured this year or next, at the very latest, he will not be resigned when he reaches free agency. There is no way, other than a franchise tag, would the Steelers be able to keep him from being signed away.

  • cp72

    As soon as Flacco, Romo, and Stafford got paid you could hear Ben in the background going Cha Ching! He’s gonna get over 20 million and he deserves it.

    We are on the cusp of being a perennial playoff team again. We need to keep our star quarterback happy and see what crumbs are left to put together a solid team around him. He has already mentioned what he is making compared to some others in the league. Get this done before it becomes an issue.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    The only reason to extend a contract early is if you think it will save you money over the entirety of the deal. There is no way that happens in this case. The Roethlisberger contract can be looked at next year, but to give him more money this year for short term cap relief that only adds to the burden down the road would be a poor decision.

    With the flat cap, qb salaries are no longer growing every year. They all are coming in right around $20m/year. Take advantage of him being signed for $25m over the next 2 years and franchise him after that, if necessary.

  • RyanW

    Ummm whys that? His contract eats up the most space and the majority of the expensive contracts and dead money will be off the books by the time his contracts up so wed have plenty of space to resign him.

  • RyanW

    Better to do a new deal now that wait for the price to go up. Every elite and even some non elite QB deals are going up every year.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    I don’ agree. I think the high end numbers for QBs have plateaued now that the salary cap is flat.

  • RyanW

    Lol must be a good dream you have

  • Brendon Glad

    I say get it done this summer. He’s as “non-sexy” of a QB around the league’s view as he ever will be. WE all know how excellent he is, but he still gets left off of a lot of top-10 lists…heck Philip Rivers finally has a decent season and now HE has inexplicably passed Ben by again in the football-worlds’ eyes. I imagine that fact, as annoying as it is, probably becomes an advantage in negotiating a contract. Because I think Ben and his people correctly assume that the Steelers, and Steelers Nation appreciate him more than the rest of the world, so when they make him a very lucrative offer, but probably not Aaron Rogers/Drew Brees money, he likely will understand, and sign as opposed to being offended and waiting.

  • Brendon Glad

    Flacco and Romo’s contracts will never be a help in this situation though, that’s for sure. And that’s not going away.