Ben Roethlisberger is more than just a franchise quarterback. He is essentially the franchise at this point in his career. If Roethlisberger goes down with an injury for any duration of time, the 2014 season could very well be over before it started.
That, and many other reasons, are why Steelers fans have been wondering why the organization hasn't locked up their favorite quarterback to a long term deal that will have Big Ben retire in Pittsburgh.
When it looked as if Roethlisberger would be getting a new contract this offseason to help the team with the salary cap, it was Maurkice Pouncey that got the contract extension, and not Roethlisberger. Fans were left scratching their heads as to why the organization wouldn't take care of their franchise quarterback first.
Today, team president and owner Art Rooney II spoke with Bob Labriola of Steelers.com and spoke about the ongoing contract negotiations between the organization and Roethlisberger.
"I met with Ben shortly before we did the Maurkice Pouncey signing (in the middle of June) just to make sure Ben understood where we were with our intentions as far as a contract extension for him,” “I just didn’t want him to feel like we were moving ahead with other players without any communication."
The organization was the first to reach out between the two sides, and ultimately to make sure everyone was on the same page as negotiations, or lack thereof, continued.
One of the largest reasons why the organization is taking a passive approach to these negotiations is they realize what it will take to sign Roethlisberger for the remainder of his career. At a time when quarterbacks like Tony Romo and Matt Ryan, who haven't accomplished half of what Roethlisberger has in his career, are garnering extremely lucrative contracts, Roethlisberger will deservedly want his pay day as well.
The Steelers are banking on the salary cap increasing in 2015, as it did in 2014 for them to free up space to pay Big Ben, "We believe the cap will go up again next year,” Rooney said. “and so from a cap planning standpoint, next year will be a better situation for us to address a franchise quarterback type of contract.”
As much as fans clamor for their star quarterback to be a Steeler for life, Roethlisberger can't complain too much about his current deal. After all, the man is raking in $12.1 million dollars this season.
The next big pay day for Roethlisberger will simply have to wait until after the 2014 season.