In wake of national media-based rumors and speculation, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is saying all the right things.
He doesn't want to be traded. He didn't ask for a trade, nor will he. He's a Pittsburgher. All that good stuff.
Now, he's playing the card fans love the most.
"...I’ll do whatever it takes to stay here and to be a part of this team and to help this team out," he said after practice Wednesday.
That "whatever" could be up to, and including, taking less than his market rate on the extension he's likely to get this offseason. While it's true Roethlisberger is listed as having a salary a bit lower than his peers heading into the 2014 season, that isn't the whole story. It's important to note Roethlisberger has two years left on his deal, which is the precise time he's received contract extensions in the past. The fact his salary is lower is a double-entendre - it gives him motivation to play for a raise in those final two years, and it mitigates the risk of the team in case he was seriously injured heading into those final two years.
Think of them more as placeholders than anything else.
If you ask the question objectively, "do you feel Ben Roethlisberger, at $12 million next year, is underpaid for his value on the team and in comparison to his peers?" It's hard to say no. It'd be smarter of Ben to just get as much guaranteed as he can, bolstering his place on the team (it makes it a lot harder to cut him if he has guaranteed money coming). He's already been paid over $70 million, thanks in part to multiple contract restructurings.
That kind of a deal would also help the team in terms of the salary cap - a strategy that's going to become more prevalent as we advance through the age of the quarterback. It's going to become increasingly difficult to field a competitive roster year in and year out with a quarterback having a cap charge in the $20 million range. Teams can compensate for that by just taking the risk of offering a high percentage of guaranteed money on a shorter dollar deal. That lessens the cap hit, and doesn't damage the team if the quarterback remains healthy.
It's a risk for any football player, but it'd be one that could provide the highest amount of value for both sides.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Ryan Clark says players made adjustments in second half
- Ben Roethlisberger open to taking less to stay with the Steelers
- Steelers injury report: Brett Keisel, Shamarko Thomas miss Wednesday practice
- Jerome Bettis, Kevin Greene among 25 Hall of Fame semifinalists
- Jason Worilds coming off self-described 'best game' in win over Lions
- Being a franchise quarterback means you can phone it in when doing your own show