While the Pittsburgh Steelers are focused on the 2019 NFL Draft, it would appear that they have not lost sight of some of the other pressing business they need to attend to this year. A new contract for Ben Roethlisberger was among the team’s priorities this offseason and it seems they might finally be close to getting a deal done with the draft less than 48 hours away.
As per multiple reports released on Tuesday, the Steelers are hopeful of having Big Ben signed to a long-term extension before Thursday night.
Steelers working hard to complete a contact extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger before Thursday night’s NFL draft begins, per sources. The 37-year-old Roethlisberger is scheduled to be headed into the final year of his contract, but Pitt wants to retain him well beyond.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 23, 2019
Source said Ben Roethlisberger contract talks with Steelers are ‘moving in the right direction’ after a slower period coming out of free agency. Both sides would like to enter post-draft offseason without this as a concern. Steelers could clear cap space to make a draft-day move— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 23, 2019
The #Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger have made significant progress on a contract extension that will make him, once again, one of the highest paid players, source say. The two sides are in the final stages and a deal could be announced as soon as today.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2019
From @gmfb: The #Steelers and Big Ben are closing in on an extension, beating their goal of a pre-draft deal and locking him in for the rest of his career. pic.twitter.com/FUbeANDtUR— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 24, 2019
Set to earn a base salary of $12 million in 2019 and a roster bonus of $5 million that was due earlier in the month, Roethlisberger currently has a salary cap hit of $23.2 million thanks to a prorated signing bonus accounting for another $6.2 million.
Given the market for top quarterbacks these days, it would be a surprise if Roethlisberger’s new deal did not average around $30 million a year, a figure that might not leave much room to create any significant amount of additional cap space this year, despite Fowler's suggestion. Russell Wilson is currently the league’s highest paid quarterback earning an average of $35 million a year, closely followed by Aaron Rodgers at $33.5 million and Matt Ryan at $30 million. Kirk cousins is fourth in the NFL with an average of $28 million a season.
The four year extension Roethlisberger signed in 2015 pays him an average of $21.85 million a year and is set to expire at the end of this season.