It has been almost two years since Ben Roethlisberger publicly flirted with retirement at the conclusion of the 2016 season, but it appears that is not something the Pittsburgh Steelers will have to worry about this offseason. For the second time in less than a week, the veteran quarterback confirmed his intentions to return in 2019 when talking to reporters during his post-game press conference on Sunday.
Asked about his plans to play a 15th season in the NFL, Big Ben was quick to commit to another year as long as Maurkice Pouncey was with him.
“I’ve got another year on my contract, and as long as 53’s coming back, I’ll be back.”
Although encouraged by the emerging talent of some of the younger players on the roster, keeping his offensive line intact is clearly the priority for Roethlisberger.
“I think we’ve got a really good group. The linemen, as long as they come back, they’re the core. They’re the strength of this team and if they come back, I’ll be back and I feel good.”
#LIVE: Ben Roethlisberger is at the podium. https://t.co/54MLR1AdR8— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 31, 2018
With Pouncey also under contract for just one more season like Roethlisberger, there should be no doubt he will be back in 2019 too. Much like his quarterback, Pouncey may even be in line for an extension in the offseason given he will only be 30-years-old when training camp begins. However, there is no guarantee Big Ben will see all five starters return along the offensive line next season.
Ramon Foster is out of contract at 33-years-old and looking for a big payday with a viable cheaper option waiting in the wings in B.J.Finney. Marcus Gilbert is far from a lock to see out the final year of his contact either, having played in just 12 games over the past two seasons due to injury.
Should both veterans end up playing elsewhere next year, it will be interesting to note how that changes Roethlisberger’s perspective on his 15th season. Thankfully, David DeCastro is under contract through 2021 and Alejandro Villanueva is signed through 2020.