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Kevin Colbert believes criticism won’t affect Ben Roethlisberger, confirms contract talks ongoing

The Steelers general manager also acknowledged that the team is attempting to trade Morgan Burnett, but will release him this week if they cannot find a suitor.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With Ben Roethlisberger having been something of a punching bag for the national media as of late, it has been a rough offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback. But while many outsiders seem to believe that the Steelers will still have problems in their locker room as long as Big Ben remains, it is clear that General Manager Kevin Colbert disagrees.

When speaking to reporters at the owners annual meeting in Arizona on Sunday, Colbert dismissed criticisms of Roethlisberger as nothing more than white noise, once again expressing his support for the quarterback.

And for those concerned about how Big Ben will be handling all the negative attention, Colbert’s remarks suggest he believes Roethlisberger will be relatively unaffected by it all. As reported by Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.

“I have not spoken to (Ben) since the end of the season. I don’t think that will bother him. I think Ben is very comfortable with who he is, what he’s done, and what he can still do. I don’t think it will affect him because each and every year he’s out there trying to prove who he is and he’ll have no agenda other than trying to win a Super Bowl. You know what, you can’t dictate what someone will say, either when they’re with you or when they leave. But we feel comfortable knowing that Ben Roethlisberger is our quarterback and is our leader. Ben unquestionably is a top quarterback in this league. He’s a Hall of Fame quarterback. He’s won Super Bowls. I know he’s comfortable with that, we’re comfortable with that, and we’re always going to support him in that role.”

With Pittsburgh still hoping to finalise a new deal with Big Ben in the comings weeks, the Steelers GM acknowledged that negotiations were ongoing, but said little that would imply the two side were close to an agreement.

“Still ongoing. You know, it’s probably his last contract as an NFL player, so it’s significant. It’s significant for us, especially since we’re in a different dynamic from a financial standpoint as far as the cap because we don’t have a couple players with us from before. So we have to make sure it all makes sense. But it has to make sense from both sides, and that we’re comfortable. At some point we hope it does.”

Given how long they have been in negotiations with Big Ben over this final extension, it seems safe to say that Pittsburgh will not be getting a hometown discount. And while the front office is unlikely to need any additional salary cap space this year to get the deal done, Colbert confirmed the team would be creating some soon with impending departure of Morgan Burnett.

Preferring to trade him if possible, Colbert left little doubt that the safety would not be with the Steelers much longer.

Due a base salary of $5 million in 2019 and a workout bonus worth an extra $50,000, it is unlikely that Pittsburgh will be able to find anyone willing to offer much more than a late round draft pick for the 30-year-old defensive back. But given his recent injury history, it would not be a surprise if the Steelers struggled to find a trade partner willing to pick up his current contract.