As the Pittsburgh Steelers organization prepares for the rest of NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft, most are assuming this is Ben Roethlisberger’s final year under center. After signing a new contract which helped decrease his salary cap hit in 2021, Steelers General Manager and Vice President Kevin Colbert released the following statement via the team’s official website:
“We are excited we were able to come to an agreement with Ben Roethlisberger on a new contract for him to return to the Steelers in 2021,” said Colbert. “We know that Ben can still play at a high level and do special things for this team. Our goal remains the same – to put together a roster that will compete for another championship. We are happy that Ben will be one of our leaders to help us accomplish that goal.”
Notice some of the verbiage used in the above statement.
“return to the Steelers in 2021”
The Steelers added voidable years in Roethlisberger’s new contract, but it sure sounds like the Steelers are either taking it one year at a time, or are banking on this being Roethlisberger’s final year with the team.
Let’s look at what Roethlisberger had to say after the new contract was signed and the ink had finally dried:
“It is my greatest honor to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and give my all for this organization,” said Roethlisberger. “I am grateful to be at this stage of my career and more than happy to adjust my contract in a way that best helps the team to address other players who are so vital to our success. I love this game and love to compete, and I believe in this team and my ability to deliver when called upon. It all starts with great preparation and I am ready to go.”
Notice Roethlisberger never stated this was “one last ride” or “a chance to win a championship in my final year”. Rather, it sounded like Roethlisberger wasn’t done, and possibly not just for this season.
Which brings me to my ultimate point with this article. What if Ben Roethlisberger isn’t done after 2021, what would the organization do? Would they tell him he is no longer welcome, sign Mason Rudolph to a new contract and force Roethlisberger into a Troy Polamalu/Hines Ward type retirement? Or, if he plays well in 2021, welcome Roethlisberger back for another season?
The voidable years in Roethlisberger’s new contract certainly leave a potential return as an option, but the scenarios for Roethlisberger go beyond just his will to return in 2022. What if the season goes south in a hurry? What if Roethlisberger doesn’t play well in 2021? What if, somehow, the Steelers win a Super Bowl, does Roethlisberger ride off into the sunset like his childhood idol John Elway and call it a career?
The fan base can debate Roethlisberger’s future until they are blue in the face, but I think it would be foolish to think Roethlisberger is thinking 2021 is the last ride. In fact, if you listen to Roethlisberger, or read his comments, you would most likely think the complete opposite. Barring a disastrous 2021 season, I feel Roethlisberger will want to return in 2022. The question then is will the Steelers want him back?
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to follow BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft.