Ben Roethlisberger should be exception to regular season "no negotiation" policy

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Roethlisberger is two years from free agency. If he and the team can't work out a contract extension this offseason, there will be no negotiations during the regular season. Considering his value to the team, should the Steelers make an exception on their team policy and continue to negotiate with Roethlisberger during the regular season?

It's the kind of scenario that has played out time and time again over the years.

A highly productive and valuable player is nearing free agency and says all the right things like, "I want to retire with this team." And "I can't envision myself playing anywhere else."

And, of course, the player's organization says all the right things, too, like, "We want (insert player here) to retire with (insert team here), and we'll do everything in our power to make sure that happens."

As a fan, when you've heard the same act a 1000 or more times in your life, you sort of tune it out, as the cynic in you says, "What else is either party going to say?"

But when it comes to certain players, players like franchise quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl rings, those standard quotes take on a whole new life and meaning.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has two years left on his current deal and is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season. (That's a little too close for comfort.)

Predictably, Roethlisberger and the Steelers have said all the familiar right things in recent weeks and months, but a contract has yet to be hammered out. And as BTSC contributor Simon Chester pointed out in this piece, the math might not work out right now for the kind of contract extension No. 7 is going to want to have in-order to retire with that same number, donning the same Black and Gold he's worn his entire career.

But isn't the math going to be complicated, and aren't the Steelers going to be in at least salary cap purgatory no matter when they (hopefully) extend their only Super Bowl-winning quarterback not named Terry Bradshaw?

Sure, the math looks impossible now, but then again, it seemed impossible that Pittsburgh would have the financial freedom to ink Mike Mitchell, LeGarrette Blount and a host of others to deals during the height of free agency, and yet, it somehow happened.

It also initially looked like it would be cap suicide to release LaMarr Woodley and absorb his dead money, but that somehow is going to happen.

Salary cap issues, aside, Roethlisberger and his contract situation is going to be news until it gets resolved.

The Steelers have a standing policy of not negotiating during the regular season in-order to avoid any unnecessary distractions, so if nothing is finalized between now and September, all talks will stop.

That very well may be, but the media and fans certainly don't have a standing policy regarding contract negotiations, and how often do you think Roethlisberger's contract situation will be brought up to him during the 2014 season?

Let me answer that question: It will be brought up a whole lot, Steelers policy, be damned.

And if things still aren't settled by the 2015 regular season, boy, you're gonna see a distraction even a Hard Knocks production crew wouldn't be able to trump.

With time very much of the essence, wouldn't it be appropriate to make an exception and use every single second (even the ones ticking during the regular season) for the Steelers and Roethlisberger's agent to try and reach an agreement on an extension?

While it might be nice and noble to say all players are created equally, and football is a team game, that's certainly not the case when it comes to who's allowed to be hit during training camp (the quarterback ain't one of them);  and it sure isn't the case when comparing a franchise quarterback's bank account to the rest of his teammates.

Might the Steelers open up a whole can of worms if they were to break their policy and negotiate with Roethlisberger during the 2014 regular season?


However, any future player who tries to use that as a bargaining chip will not be so vital to the immediate future of the franchise, and he certainly won't be closing the door on any possible championship success if he were to leave.

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