The Pittsburgh Steelers were staring at a severe roster turnover heading into the 2021 regular season, and it would have started with players like Ben Roethlisberger, who had a whopping $41 million dollar cap hit, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was bound to strike it big in free agency.
Lo and behold, Roethlisberger signed a new contract, taking a pay cut in the process, to return, and Smith-Schuster decided to have one more ride in Pittsburgh as well. Suddenly, the Steelers were getting two of their top offensive weapons back on the team for at least the 2021 season.
During a fan conference call Thursday, Team President Art Rooney II was asked about these two players, and he addressed the return of Roethlisberger first.
“We wanted Ben back,” Rooney said. “The key to it was to be able to restructure his contract in a way that allowed us to keep Ben and be able to sign some other players. Ben cooperated with that, was willing to make some changes in his contract, and that allowed us to keep him on the team this year which was always our goal.
“I thought Ben had a very good year last year for somebody that was coming off of arm surgery. Hopefully he will have an even better year this year with another year under his belt in terms of recovering from that arm surgery. It was a very serious surgery, and we were uncertain how well he would be able to recover from it. He did a great job rehabbing and we are excited to have him back for this season.”
Rooney then went on to talk about Smith-Schuster, and how he was able to return on a one year deal rather than sign a more lucrative contract elsewhere.
“JuJu was an important part of our offense last year and has been for the last few years,” said Rooney. “We were certainly hopeful that we would be able to sign JuJu back. The one thing about JuJu is he really wanted to come back and that certainly helped a lot. I’m glad we got him back. I look forward to him having another good year for us in 2021.”
Regardless of how, or what, brought Roethlisberger and Smith-Schuster back to the Steelers, it is great news for the Pittsburgh offense. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada will have a future Hall of Famer under center, and Smith-Schuster has proven not only his toughness, but his willingness to do the dirty work to get the job done.
Are the Steelers done making moves this offseason? Who knows, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.