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Will Big Ben be getting Big Bucks in 2015?

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In what will most likely become one of the biggest off season stories around the NFL and most certainly in Pittsburgh we take a look at the sort of contract Ben could expect in the coming months and how it will effect the Steelers and their salary cap.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off one of his best seasons ever, certainly statistically at least, Ben Roethlisberger has shown he still has a lot left to give and has many years playing this game ahead of him.

Many in the media and among the fan base felt Ben should have been extended last year despite the clear cap reasons against such a move. A number of quarterbacks less worthy than Ben have received extensions that on paper appear to dwarf his contract but in practical terms Ben has been one of the higher earners at his position over the past six seasons.

At 32 years old Ben is no youngster but in QB terms of late he could be seen as having a good five years left in him potentially (baring injury) and with Tom Brady (37) and Peyton Manning (38) still going strong among others there is more than enough evidence around the league to suggest Roethlisberger has one more big contract left in him.

While it would be nice to think Ben will give the Steelers a hometown discount in a similar vein to the way Tom Brady has done that is most likely wishful thinking. He also has 5 years on Brady so is not quite in his twilight years desperate for one more run at a championship so lets just assume Ben will want his market value.

With the recent contracts signed by lesser quarterbacks like Joe Flacco, Colin Kaepernick, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan something of a base level for Bens contract has been established. Aaron Rodgers new deal in 2013 might represent the unobtainable level for Bens agents but certainly one it would be imagined they are looking at from their perspective.

It is worth noting that Eli Manning is also in the final year of his deal like Ben. Of all the players out there who could sign a new deal that would have a bearing on Roethlisbergers contract, that would seem to be the one and it will be interesting to see which team blinks first in getting their signal caller signed long term.

Joe Flacco - $120,600,000 (avg. $20,100,000/year; $29,000,000 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2013 $1,000,000 $5,800,000 $0 $0 $6,800,000
2014 $6,000,000 $8,800,000 $0 $0 $14,800,000
2015 $4,000,000 $10,550,000 $0 $0 $14,550,000
2016 $18,000,000 $10,550,000 $0 $0 $28,550,000
2017 $20,600,000 $10,550,000 $0 $0 $31,150,000
2018 $20,000,000 $4,750,000 $0 $0 $24,750,000
Jay Cutler - $126,700,000 (avg. $18,100,000/year; $38,000,000 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2013 $8,470,000 $1,400,000 $0 $500,000 $10,370,000
2014 $17,500,000($22,500,000) $1,000,000 $0 $0 $18,500,000
2015 $15,500,000($15,500,000) $1,000,000 $0 $0 $16,500,000
2016 $16,000,000 $1,000,000 $0 $0 $17,000,000
2017 $12,500,000 $1,000,000 $2,500,000 $0 $16,000,000
2018 $13,500,000 $1,000,000 $2,500,000 $0 $17,000,000
2019 $17,500,000 $0 $2,500,000 $0 $20,000,000
2020 $19,200,000 $0 $2,500,000 $0 $21,700,000
Colin Kaepernick -  $114,000,000 (avg. $19,000,000/year; $12,973,766 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2014 $645,000($645,000) $3,022,444 $0 $100,000 $3,767,444
2015 $10,400,000 $2,465,753 $2,000,000 $400,000 $15,265,753
2016 $11,900,000 $2,465,753 $2,000,000 $400,000 $16,765,753
2017 $14,500,000 $2,465,753 $2,000,000 $400,000 $19,365,753
2018 $15,000,000 $2,465,754 $2,000,000 $400,000 $19,865,754
2019 $16,800,000 $0 $2,000,000 $400,000 $19,200,000
2020 $19,000,000 $0 $2,000,000 $400,000 $21,400,000
Matt Ryan - $103,750,000 (avg. $20,750,000/year; $42,000,000 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2013 $2,000,000 $7,600,000 $0 $0 $9,600,000
2014 $9,500,000($9,500,000) $8,000,000 $0 $0 $17,500,000
2015 $11,500,000($7,500,000) $8,000,000 $0 $0 $19,500,000
2016 $15,750,000 $8,000,000 $0 $0 $23,750,000
2017 $15,750,000 $8,000,000 $0 $0 $23,750,000
2018 $19,250,000 $2,400,000 $0 $0 $21,650,000
Tony Romo - $108,000,000 (avg. $18,000,000/year; $40,000,000 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2013 $1,500,000($1,500,000) $10,318,835 $0 $0 $11,818,835
2014 $1,000,000($1,000,000) $10,773,000 $0 $0 $11,773,000
2015 $17,000,000($7,500,000) $10,773,000 $0 $0 $27,773,000
2016 $8,500,000 $9,135,000 $0 $0 $17,635,000
2017 $14,000,000 $7,500,000 $0 $0 $21,500,000
2018 $19,500,000 $2,500,000 $0 $0 $22,000,000
2019 $20,500,000 $0 $0 $0 $20,500,000
Aaron Rodgers - $110,000,000 (avg. $22,000,000/year; $54,000,000 guaranteed)
Year Base Salary(Guaranteed) Bonuses Cap Number
Prorated Roster Workout
2013 $4,500,000($4,500,000) $7,000,000 $0 $500,000 $12,000,000
2014 $900,000($9,500,000) $6,650,000 $9,500,000 $500,000 $17,550,000
2015 $1,000,000($9,500,000) $6,650,000 $10,100,000 $500,000 $18,250,000
2016 $11,500,000 $6,650,000 $600,000 $500,000 $19,250,000
2017 $12,550,000 $6,650,000 $600,000 $500,000 $20,300,000
2018 $19,800,000 $0 $600,000 $500,000 $20,900,000
2019 $20,000,000 $0 $600,000 $500,000 $21,100,000

How teams have structured their deals is clearly very different. The Ravens for example pushed a lot of the money down the road but will be facing a hefty charge for an average QB in the coming years. The Cowboys, Falcons and Packers went bonus heavy although the Packers have eaten a lot of Rodgers bonus money early presumably in years when they had the cap space to do so.

For Ben it appears a contract in the 6 year $125 million range could be expected which gives him the $20+ million a year average he is quite likely looking for. If the Steelers chose to they could dump some of his guaranteed money in 2016 and 2017 in the form of a roster bonus to stop them being stuck with an aging QB with large prorated bonuses in his twilight years. With guaranteed money around the $45 million range it would be a contract that would make him one of the highest paid players in the league but if done sensibly could be made to work within the rest of the cap .... almost.

It is worth noting that whatever extension Ben signs in 2015 will come will the addition of his already existing prorated bonus of $6,795,000 when considering his cap charge for next year. While the signing of an extension could be presumed to bring some relief from his current cap charge of $18,395,000 of 2015 a note of warning to temper your expectations somewhat. Carrying such a large prorated bonus (blame all the restructuring) and the sizable bonus his new contract will come with, it will require some creativity on behalf of the Steelers to realistically create much of a cap saving beyond a few million or so.