Steelers president Art Rooney met with Ben Roethlisberger on Tuesday to discuss the quarterback’s future. On Wednesday morning, Rooney let fans know that the meeting was productive and a big step towards moving forward together.
“Ben Roethlisberger and I met yesterday morning and we had a productive meeting,” Rooney said. “We were able to discuss a lot of things that relate to where we are and where we want to go. Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship. We both understand the next step is to work out Ben’s contract situation.”
Roethlisberger’s agent Ryan Tollner made similar comments Tuesday following the meeting. Of course, the big barrier here is Big Ben’s contract. The veteran is set to count for more than $41M against the Steelers’ 2021 cap. In one fashion or another, that number has to be tampered down. It’s the highest cap hit of any player for 2021, and the overall salary cap is set to drop for the first time in a decade.
Roethlisberger, who turns 39 next week, isn’t the only Steelers player in flux. JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton and Alejandro Villanueva are also slated for free agency, and the Steelers don’t have the capital to keep all of them. Even without those players factored in, the Steelers are already looking at a ~$210M payroll, which probably puts them $20M-$25M over the to-be-determined max.