When given the chance to provide a strong endorsement about Ben Roethlisberger’s future with the Pittsburgh Steelers, general manager Kevin Colbert did not commit to the quarterback’s return.
“As we sit here today, Ben Roethlisberger is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert said Wednesday in a news conference with reporters.
Colbert added that the team isn’t currently negotiating with Roethlisberger, but that he, Steelers owner Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin have all met with the quarterback.
“He reiterated to us that he wants to continue to play,” Colbert continued. “We told him we have to look at this current situation.”
Roethlisberger, 38, just completed his 17th season in the NFL, all of which have been in Pittsburgh. His salary, however, could become untenable in 2021, as Pittsburgh is already estimated to be $13 million over the projected salary cap. Colbert said that the “first and foremost” concern with Roethlisberger’s situation is the $41.25 million salary cap hit that the contract carries in the 2021 season.
“We told him we have to look at this current situation,” Colbert said. “With Ben’s current cap number, some adjustments will have to be made. Hopefully there’s a way we can figure out what’s best for the organization. Hopefully he can see that and feel the same way. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
According to ESPN, even if Roethlisberger is cut or traded, he would still count for $22.25 million against the cap.
Colbert’s “as we sit here today” language is strikingly similar to the wording that has been used when teams are considering moving on from their passers. For example, Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead said on Jan. 26 that Jared Goff “is a Ram right now,” two days before the team traded him to the Detroit Lions.
Roethlisberger is coming off a season in which he put up similar statistical production to previous years — completing 65.6% of his passes for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions — but struggled with his consistency, especially in big moments.
Pittsburgh went 12-4 and won the AFC North but suffered an early exit in the postseason with a 48-37 loss in the wild-card round against the division-rival Cleveland Browns.
“Ben Roethlisberger did a lot of really good things last year,” Colbert said. “We anticipate that he could still do really good things going forward. Hopefully we can figure out how to do what’s best for the organization and for Ben. Hopefully he’ll be able to see that.”