Steelers owner gives major update about Ben Roethlisberger's future
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger discussed possibly retiring after the 2016 season, and he broached the subject again at the start of training camp before this past season.
But it appears retirement talk won’t be rearing its head anytime soon.
Steelers owner and president Art Rooney II said Wednesday that Roethlisberger told him that he wants to play longer than the two years he has remaining on his contract — “three or four more years.”
“It’s good news, and I hope we have the problem of trying to figure out how we extend his contract,’’ Rooney told a handful of reporters Wednesday. “We haven’t had a long conversation about that other than him saying he is interested in him playing beyond this contract. That’s good news to me and certainly his play this year makes you feel like he does have a few years left.”
That news falls in line with a report last month by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Roethlisberger told his teammates he would like to play three more seasons.
“All that’s great,’’ Rooney said. “In terms of the contract, we’ll address that at the right time. But bottom line is we’re excited that’s the way he feels and look forward to continue to work with him and hopefully get a couple more rings for him.”
He made similar comments Wednesday in an appearance on “Steelers Live.”
“I had a good conversation with him at the end of the season where he said that he’d like to play three or four more years,” Rooney said.
Roethlisberger turns 36 in March. Rooney admits the team doesn’t have experience offering contract extensions to players of that age.
“When you’re dealing with somebody at this stage of his career, I’m not sure we’ve ever dealt with a quarterback that we’re extending at this age,’’ Rooney said. “So there’s no precedent where we are.”
While there were reports that Roethlisberger and former offensive coordinator Todd Haley had a combative relationship — to the point where the Steelers didn’t renew Haley’s contract at the end of the season — Roethlisberger has always had a good relationship with the Rooney family.
So as long as he’s healthy and effective, the team is happy to have Roethlisberger on the roster.
“Look, we have a great relationship with Ben,” Rooney said. “We’ll talk through things. The important thing is he wants to be here and he wants to continue beyond the contract. That’s great.”
Last July, Roethlisberger had said there were no guarantees he’d be back after 2017.
“I’ve been blessed to do this a long time,” he said. “I think it’s just seeing my kids growing up, and in the offseason I love getting to spend time with them, and then I come here and football season just has to take up so much of your time. Even when you get home, I try my best to turn it off when I walk in the front door. I think I do a pretty good job of that, but it still consumes you in a way.”
But he went on to have a solid season in which he passed for 4,251 yards and 28 touchdowns as Pittsburgh went 13-3 and won the AFC North.
Before signing a contract extension with Roethlisberger, the Steelers must determine if they’re going to offer a long-term deal to running back Le’Veon Bell, or place the franchise tag on Bell.
The franchise tag would cost the Steelers more than $14 million next season. Bell was tagged prior to this season and received $12.1 million.
Bell is reportedly seeking a multiyear deal worth more than $16 million per season.
“Our goal is to negotiate a multiyear deal with Le’Veon, and I think that’s what he’d like to see happen, so we’re going to focus on it and see if we can get it done,” Rooney said. “You never know what will happen in a negotiation.”
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