NFL Insider for ESPN Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to restructure and extend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s contract before the new league year starts March 13. Roethlisberger is entering the final year of his four year $87.4 million contract extension signed in March 2015. The Steelers’ starting quarterback will enter his 16th year in the NFL in 2019 and carry a team-high cap number of $23.2 million.
The reasoning behind the extension is what will light up the BTSC boards. Is the contract just procedural and not have any tension over him not having a contract past this season? Do the Steelers need cap room to make offseason moves (Something his 2015 contract did not do)? Is the move a prelude to freeing up cap space to move on from disgruntled wideout Antonio Brown?
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are expected to restructure and extend the veteran quarterback's deal before the new league year begins March 13, per league sources. More cap room if the team decides to trade WR Antonio Brown.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 5, 2019
A case can be made that the extension and restructure is just a formality to locking in the Steelers six-time Pro Bowler past the 2019 season while any cap savings is a byproduct of the new contract. Cap savings for 2019 would not be known until the restructure is released, but as much as $16 million could be restructured.
Could the Steelers be looking to make moves in the offseason which the team would need the additional cap space? Pittsburgh has $27.7 million in cap room for 2019 according to Over the Cap. Pittsburgh has 16 unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents, and 10 exclusive rights free agents, it is debatable the team would need additional cap space to sign the players that may be retained along with the 2019 draft class and other free agents.
The third, and most controversial move, for the Steelers would be if the organization plans on moving on from Antonio Brown. Cap implications involved with Brown being traded or released were outlined in a previous article. The worst-case scenario would be trading or releasing the discontented wideout which would save the Steelers $1.045 million with the black and gold moving on but the team would be without their seven-time Pro Bowler.
Roethlisberger is coming off a career-best year for completions, attempts and yards, also leading the NFL in all three categories, and has stated he will play in 2019. Depending on the details of the restructure and extension, Pittsburgh would need guarantees that Roethlisberger would play in future seasons so the team would not incur dead cap space. The last thing fans would want to see is a large amount of dead cap space in consecutive years that would hinder the team from signing current Pittsburgh players and viable free agents.
What do you see the driving force behind a restructure and extension? Will it be to give Roethlisberger job security or would it be general manager Kevin Colbert setting the table to move on from Brown?