When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Ben Roethlisberger to a two-year contract extension the day before the 2019 NFL Draft, many assumed it would be the final deal of his illustrious NFL career. Set to expire at the conclusion of the 2021 season, the relatively short contract is due to end a few months before his 40th birthday on March 2 of that year.
But for a league that has players like Tom Brady (41) and Drew Brees (40) still ranked among the best players at the position, it is not that hard to believe that Big Ben would still be able to play beyond his current deal. A scenario that general manager Kevin Colbert could easily envisage happening when appearing as a guest with Mike Florio on a PFT Podcast.
“I know he doesn’t have an expiration date. We just felt that that was a foreseeable future that we were able to do, and he was agreeable to. But I’m sure that he doesn’t have an expiration date. I know that he’s still very competitive. He still wants to do this at a high level.”
“He doesn’t need money, he doesn’t need Hall of Fame credentials in my opinion. He’s already achieved both of those. What he wants is more Super Bowls. And he wants to continue to try to win, and we’re gonna support that. And that was a big part of why we were willing to do what we did, and now it’s our job to help him help us get there.”
For a man who doesn’t need money, Roethlisberger sure accepted a lot of it from the Steelers during his latest negotiation. But despite his flirtation with retirement a few years ago, there could be plenty of incentive to keep playing into his 40’s if the team is still contending and Pittsburgh is willing to pay.
With a relatively young supporting cast at the skill positions, the development of players like James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster could make the Steelers a tough team to walk away from, but it seems more likely that the fate of his teammates along the offensive line will dictate his future more.
After Ramon Foster (33), Alejandro Villanueva (30) is the next oldest among the starters up front, with Maurkice Pouncey (29) still under 30. Villanueva and Foster are both under contract through 2020, with Pouncey’s deal set to expire the same year as Roethlisberger’s. And while Foster maybe considering retirement at that stage in his career, it is imagined that Pouncey and Villanueva could have some years left in them. Should they end up leaving Pittsburgh when their contract expires too, it would not be a surprise if that was the signal for Big Ben to bow out as well.
If Roethlisberger is looking for input from other teammates, Mason Rudolph might have his own suggestions as well.