The Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL season has come to a close. Because the Steelers are among the 31 teams who did not finish fulfilling their ultimate goal, they are in the process of wrapping up their season and moving forward into 2022.
Since the Steelers conduct exit interviews with all their players, we here at BTSC thought we would do the same. By outlining two players each day, we will be able to look at their season in retrospect as well as looking toward the future. Since Coach Tomlin stated he starts his interviews with rookies, first year players, and those heading into free agency, we will do the same. To start, we will pair a potential free agent with a first-year player as we work through this process to eventually cover the entire Steelers roster.
First up is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Najee Harris.
Years with the Steelers: 18
Years in the NFL: 18
Contract Status: Free Agent
Contract Details: Contract expiring with void years remaining. $10.34 million dollars is due to count toward the 2022 salary cap.
Games played in 2021: 16 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 16 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 1,076 (offense)
PFF score: 53.0 (38th of 39)
Notable stats (regular season): Roethlisberger completed 390 over 605 attempts for a 64.5% completion rate; 3740 yards with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions; 20 rushes for 5 yards and one touchdown.
Notes: Ben Roethlisberger finished his 18th season with the Steelers where he started all but one game he missed due to being on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Roethlisberger’s 2021 regular season record was 9–7. Already having a farewell session at Heinz Field in Week 17, Roethlisberger and the Steelers are set to part ways and it is believed Roethlisberger will retire and not attempt to play for another NFL franchise. The Steelers could sign Roethlisberger to a small, two-year deal simply to attempt to defer part of the more than $10 million in dead money which will come due to the void years in Roethlisberger’s contract, but it is unclear at this time if the Steelers will seek to do so.
Position: Running back
Years with the Steelers: 1
Years in the NFL: 1
Contract Status: Signed through 2024 with a possible 5th-year option
Contract Details: $2,372,262 salary cap hit for 2022. Would cost the Steelers $10,675,182 in dead money if released.
Games played in 2021: 17 regular season, 1 postseason
Games started in 2021: 17 regular season, 1 postseason
Snaps (regular season): 980 (offense)
PFF score: 70.0 (28th of 61)
Notable stats (regular season): Harris had 307 rushing attempts for exactly 1,200 yards and seven rushing touchdowns; 74 receptions on 94 targets for 467 yards and three receiving touchdowns; set the Steelers rookie rushing record.
Notes: Najee Harris is set to be the Steelers driving force of the offense over the next several seasons and hopefully beyond. Appearing in every game for the Steelers in 2021, Harris did suffer an elbow injury which limited his playing time the final regular season game and playoffs. While many things will possibly be in flux for the Steelers offense going into 2022, Najee Harris will be the rock on which the Steelers build upon.
Make sure you check back each day for another set of exit interviews.